Beacon Communities’ public health initiatives: A case study analysis
Introduction: The Beacon Communities for Public Health (BCPH) project was launched in 2011 to gain a better understanding of the range of activities currently being conducted in population- and public health by the Beacon Communities. The project highlighted the successes and challenges of these efforts with the aim of sharing this information broadly among the public health community.
Background: The Beacon Community Program, designed to showcase technology-enabled, community-based initiatives to improve outcomes, focused on: building and strengthening health information technology (IT) infrastructure and exchange capabilities; translating investments in health IT to measurable improvements in cost, quality, and population health; and, developing innovative approaches to performance measurement, technology, and care delivery.
Methods: Four multimethod case studies were conducted based on a modified sociotechnical framework to learn more about public health initiative implementation and use in the Beacon Communities. Our methodological approach included using document review and semistructured key informant interviews. NACCHO Model Practice Program criteria were used to select the public health initiatives included in the case studies.
Findings: Despite differences among the case studies, common barriers and facilitators were found to be present in all areas of the sociotechnical framework application including structure, people, technology, tasks, overarching considerations, and sustainability. Overall, there were many more facilitators (range = 7–14) present for each Beacon compared to barriers (range = 4–6).
Discussion: Four influential promising practices were identified through the work: forging strong and sustainable partnerships; ensuring a good task-technology fit and a flexible and iterative design; fostering technology acceptance; and, providing education and demonstrating value.
Conclusions: A common weakness was the lack of a framework or model for the Beacon Communities evaluation work. Sharing a framework or approach to evaluation at the beginning of implementation made the work more effective. Supporting evaluation to inform future implementations is important.