By Jenn Riggle
Health care reform is changing the way we think of health care, causing people to take more responsibility for their health and wellness. And social media and the Internet are providing the platform to help make this happen.
According to Deloitte’s 2009 Survey of Health Care Consumers, 37 percent of those surveyed are interested in using online tools like Personal Health Records (PHR) to help them assess, monitor and manage their health. In addition, 64 percent would be interested in home/remote devices that include prompts & reminders to improve adherence to health improvement or treatment plan.
Personal health records have the power to supercharge doctor visits, giving people the information they need to make the most of their 15 minutes with their doctor. People can access their medical record, see test results, renew prescriptions and schedule appointments from the comfort of their desktop.
According to a national survey from California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), 7 percent of adults currently use personal health records – and credit PHRs for helping them take steps to improve their health.
Healthcare reform is making strange bedfellows. Organizations and caregivers across the “continuum of care” are partnering to help people improve their health. For example, UnitedHealth, Walgreens and the YMCA recently announced they’re working together on a diabetes prevention and control program. This program combines using claims data to flag people at risk of developing diabetes and invite them to a free, 16-session exercise and nutrition class at a local YMCA. Participants who already have diabetes will receive a 45-minute assessment and other health coaching sessions at Walgreens pharmacies.
There are also a number of social media initiatives to give people the tools to help them take control of their help.
· One of our clients, the Council for Responsible Nutrition has a consumer wellness program called “Life…supplemented” that helps people focus on the three pillars of health: healthy diet, supplements and exercise. People can take My Wellness Scorecard to discover whether you’re an AlphaWELL or an OhWELL — and receive tips on how you can move up the wellness scale.
· The Text4Baby is a free mobile education program that brings together the National Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Coalition that provides pregnant women and new moms with health information. Pregnant women text “BABY” to 511411 to sign up for three text reminders a week on prenatal care and other health issues important to expectant mothers
· According to the Deloitte survey, Americans are open to the idea of using health coaches, who help people make lifestyle choices to improve health. Now there are health coaches on Twitter (here’s a listing of them) that can provide virtual encouragement.
· People can use social media to help encourage them to be fit. People can join in fitness tweet chats or fitness Tweetups, like the one held in Charlotte, N.C. in April. Others are using the #TwitFit or #Twit2Fit hashtags or joining Jason Falls’ Twit2Fit network to support and encourage others who are hoping to better themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
We’ve come a long way since the 1950s, when Jack LaLanne was alone waving the fitness banner and encouraging Americans to get off the couch. Now we have interactive resources that allow us to work together to be healthier.
So what’s stopping you from getting out from behind your computer and taking charge of your health?