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Healthcare Self-Management to Improve Outcomes

November 19, 2012

The purpose of this project is to better understand user needs for personal health information management (PHIM) by examining how existing software for PHIM can supplement employee wellness programs in local hospitals.

In order to do so, two researchers from the Clemson University Industrial Engineering Department a, Ashley Kay Childers, PhD, and David M. Neyens, PhD, MPH, have partnered with Healarium, a health information technology company, and Baptist Easley Hospital where hospital employees have been working together toward a healthier lifestyles. Literature suggests that proper management of personal health information can empower patients to take a more active role in their own health care, thus leading to improved health outcomes.

Another strategy for improving health outcomes is participation in employee wellness programs. Independently, these two strategies have been shown to have a positive impact on health outcomes. The study will investigate how the two approaches together can support improved health for participants.

The Healarium system enables technology to allow health promotion programs, such as worksite wellness programs,accountable care organizations, health plans and patient centered medical homes, to deliver personalized, patient-centered health management services. The open-architecture framework allows service providers to integrate their own expertise, guidelines and protocols. This information is then tailored specifically to individual users and shared with them via web- and smartphone-based applications. The Healarium software promotes successful care-coordination relationships by integrating personal health information, incentives, interventions, daily actionable tasks, and social networks.

Since 2011, Baptist Easley Hospital has successfully implemented its program by establishing policies and programs to promote physical activity and nutrition, encourage tobacco cessation, and manage chronic conditions such as asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Approximately one-third of the employee population has participated in some aspect of the program, and the hospital has received a number of recognitions for these programs. It was named a Center of Excellence and a Gold Star Standard Hospital in the North Carolina Prevention Partners and South Carolina Hospital Association’s Working Well Campaign. For the last two years, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recognized Baptist Easley Hospital as a Fit-Friendly Company, and this year, the hospital received the Worksite Innovation Award from the AHA.

Next steps are to integrate the Healarium system into the worksite wellness program at Baptist Easley Hospital. The team from Healarium will work with the health coaches to translate its current care plans and protocols into the Healarium system. Kiosks will be set up in the hospital to send participant’s biometric data to the system in real time. During this time, Dr. Childers, Dr. Neyens and the Clemson Department of Industrial Engineering will conduct user needs assessments to better understand how hospital employees manage their personal health information and developing user-based design requirements and recommendations for health information technology systems. The goal is this will facilitate more efficient and successful use of PHIM by consumers. In addition, the team aims to gain specific insights on understanding healthcare workers and setting to identify the features that facilitate activation and engagement in personal health information management.

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