About the Learning Guides

Learning Guide: A Learning Guide describes a promising IT-enabled intervention that can be deployed in a community to accelerate health care transformation.

Learning Guides are the primary resource of the Beacon Nation project; they are filled with actionable information and strategies that can be adapted by hospitals, health systems, individual practices, and community organizations to help them advance community-level health care transformation using health IT. Learning Guides review the challenges and benefits of health IT and essential elements needed for success in multiple markets.

A series of six Learning Guides were developed between February 2013 and September 2013 and are available below. Click the name of the Learning Guide to view the content in a user-friendly format or click “download PDF” to save the document to your computer. Also available for each Learning Guide is , a brief “lead-in article” explaining the importance of the health IT innovation discussed in the guide, as well as an Executive Summary providing a high-level overview of the objectives and content of the guide.

The Learning Guide themes address a number of relevant and timely topics including:

  • Improve Hospital Transitions and Care Management Using Admission, Discharge and Transfer Alerts
  • Strengthening Care Management With Health Information Technology
  • Capturing High Quality Electronic Health Records Data to Support Performance Improvement
  • Enabling Health Information Exchange Strategies to Support Community Goals
  • Health Information Technology Capabilities to Support Clinical Transformation in a Practice Setting
  • Building Technology Capabilities for Population Health Measurement at the Community Level
  • How to Use a Learning Guide

    The Beacon Nation project team has worked with existing Beacon Communities, industry experts, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to create the Learning Guides and engage Innovation Partners who have committed to implementing the Learning Guides.

    A Learning Guide is a common set of materials describing a promising IT-enabled intervention that can be deployed in a community to accelerate change. The first step to using a Learning Guide is to familiarize yourself with the content. Then you can apply the information provided in the Learning Guide to your community’s complex and vibrant healthcare environment.

    The Learning Guides can be used by multiple entities— a single practice, a community health alliance, a hospital system, or even a state. Collaborators across organizations may find the Learning Guides particularly helpful in implementing a technology-enabled solution in a multi-stakeholder community. You may download the Learning Guides in their entirety from this website.

    Additional Resources

    For any entity implementing a Learning Guide independently, please consider using some of the other resources on this site, including the Executive Summaries, Lead-in Articles, and health IT videos.  In addition, the ONC website, www.healthIT.gov,  also has a number of helpful resources that can be accessed when building and strengthening your health IT capabilities.

    Understanding Learning Guides

    “Understanding Learning Guides” is a two-page document explaining the purpose of the Learning Guides and giving a brief synopsis of each of the six Learning Guides.


    The ONC developed five short and engaging videos showing how health IT can improve a community’s health care system. These videos align with several of the Learning Guide themes, including care management and population health.  Click on the title to watch the video on the ONC YouTube channel.

    1. Care Transitions Overview (4:09)

      Description: Learn about the vision for providing better care at lower costs for the whole patient. Discover what providing care managers with technology means for the future of healthcare. Watch this video to gain a broad overview of the value proposition behind integrating health information technology into the healthcare system.

    2. Understanding the Full Picture: Population Health (01:35)

      Description: Learn how to identify and address problems with a better understanding of population health data. For example, one community was able to reduce emergency room visits by 25% by using population health data. This video provides the value proposition for using population data to improve the health of each individual and the community.

    3. Information Follows the Patient (01:20)

      Description: Patients don’t just go to one doctor, so how can we have the data follow the patient from doctor to doctor? Learn about the opportunities that exist for a health information exchange to connect providers, hospitals, and practices. Watch this video to understand the value proposition of health information exchanges to ensure information follows the patient.

    4. Cost of Care (01:29)

      Description: With healthcare costs skyrocketing, this is the time for transformation. Learn how to reduce costs by providing care managers with health information technology tools. Watch this video to understand the value proposition of using care managers to improve the quality of care for patients, while decreasing costs at the same time.

    5. Patient Facing Technologies(1:40)

      Description: We are at the beginning of the revolution of patient facing technology. Learn about patient facing technologies such as mobile applications, telemonitoring technologies, and smart devices that allow patients to manage their own care. Watch this video to understand the value proposition of patient facing technologies and how they are already decreasing emergency room visits and readmission rates.