Total Health Questionnaire: Ted Eytan, MD

Ted Eytan, MDTed Eytan, MD, is the Physician Director of the Kaiser Permanante Center for Total Health. He wears many, many hats at Kaiser Permanente, and started wearing the Center for Total Health hat about two years ago.

Q: In a few words, what does Total Health mean to you?
A: It’s not 100 percent health; it’s balance in achieving life goals.

Q: Which person, living or dead, is your health hero or role model?
My mother.

Q: What do you most value in your work? What inspires you to continue?
I value the opportunity to make a difference and connect with awesome people, including our Center for Total Health team – Keith, Erin, Yen, all of my Kaiser Permanente colleagues, community colleagues, and our members!!! I am inspired by others’ success and the human spirit (that’s what the whole picture-taking thing is about).

Q: If you could change one thing in health care, what would it be?
I would have a patient/member be a part of every team and every committee, at every level of every health system.

Q: In your opinion, what is the most underrated way to improve health for individuals?
A: Walking for sure, except it’s not considered underrated anymore because it’s really caught on.

Q: Where would you most like to live?
Easy. Washington, DC. I’ve arrived.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
A: To connect with the patient community – outside of the medical system – and connect them back to the health system. It’s been awesome seeing my colleagues at the CTH and beyond engage in supporting the diverse populations we take care of.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
A:  I’d probably enjoy a walk with Harvey Milk, Ryan White, and Sidney Garfield, MD.

Six Burning Questions Health Care Leaders Have about ACOs

ACO imageIf you ask health care leaders what they think about Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), you won’t be short on answers, writes Samantha DuPont of the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy, in a recent article and video on the Institute website.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, ACOs are formed by groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, coming together to provide coordinated high quality care to their patients.

Early ACOs have had mixed success, and in light of emerging research questions remain as to whether or not they will result in comprehensive delivery system and payment reform that is sustainable.

DuPont chronicles the six themes that emerged from the Institute’s work in asking leaders from across the nation their burning questions about ACOs:

1. What do ACOs look like today?

2. What factors will lead to ACO success?

2. Are current financial incentives strong enough to change provider behavior?

4. Will ACOs integrate with other types of caregivers?

5. Will ACOs successfully engage their patients?

6. What metrics will effectively measure quality?


Friday Food: Tasty Tacos — Without the Guilt

The latest Food for Health blog recipe is a keeper — veggie tacos!  Kaiser Permanente physician and chef Benjamin Maring, MD, shares his lighter take on this popular meal.  The trick is to combine raw veggies with roasted cauliflower and sweet potato, which — according to Maring — add what he describes as “a heartiness that make you not miss the classic seasoned ground meat filling, even for a second.”  Check it out here.

Categories: Food

Today We Launch the Total Health Questionnaire. First Up: Keith Montgomery

This post kicks off a new series on our blog. We’re calling it the Total Health Questionnaire, and we’re asking all sorts of people to complete it. It’s a shameless borrowing of a concept from Marcel Proust and Vanity Fair, except we’ve changed the questions to make them more about total health. 

Is there someone you’d like us to feature in this series? Nominate them! Send us a message here with your suggestion.

Keith Montgomery is the Executive Director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health.

Keith Montgomery

Keith Montgomery

Q: In a few words, what does Total Health mean to you?
A: A broader focus on your health than just the care you receive at a medical center or through a provider. Total health is addressing all the factors that influence your health and state of being. Most important, its realizing that each person is different and offering the right integrated health care resources

Q: What’s your first health-related memory?
A: I spent a lot of my childhood in a hospital, and I remember them as sterile, boring environments.  It’s exciting to see new designs for hospitals and medical centers including more home-like details.

Q: What is your favorite food?
Curry.  Anything curry.

Q: What do you most value in your work? What inspires you to continue?
The rapid change taking place today.  Health care outcomes won’t change until each person takes more responsibility for their own health. I think wearable devices and smart clothing will help more people think about what they can do every day to be more proactive about their own health.

Q: In your opinion, what is the most underrated way to improve health for individuals?
A: They say you are what you eat. No amount of exercise can make up for the unhealthy choices we make when eating.

Q: Where do/would you most like to travel?
A: Chicago feels like home away from home. I’ve been traveling there since my first business trip ever, and it just feel like I grew up there.  The summer months are amazing – whether walking or biking along the lake or attending a Cubs game.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
A: I once organized an end-of-life care summit for the largest African-American churches in Chicago.  The event culminated with gospel choirs from all the churches entertaining at closing celebration.  Simply an amazing experience.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
A:  Albert Einstein – pure genius. What was he like when not focused on work?
Robin Williams – if laughter is the best medicine, I’d be the healthiest person around.
Dolly Parton – Who doesn’t love Dolly? From rags to riches. Both a singer and actress.  Dinner at her house would be good old southern hospitality. Yes, I listen to country music.

How Innovation brought Exercise as a Vital Sign to Life

Two years ago, a team from Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Consultancy was given the task of transforming patient data on exercise into actionable information that health care providers could use to encourage healthy behaviors. They called this initiative Project Move.

In part five of her seven-part blog series on Exercise as a Vital Sign (EVS), Dr. Latifat Apatira describes how the Innovation team went about the work of better understanding patients’ barriers and motivations regarding exercise.

The Innovators traveled to several Kaiser Permanente regions to analyze interactions between health care providers and members. They learned that patients are less active because of busy lifestyles. As for health providers, it was determined that they did not have time nor established resources to address their inactivity.

The group came up with several ideas to make EVS more actionable that are outlined in detail in the EVS blog, including screening questions from medical assistants and licensed vocational nurses that get entered into the medical record and passed along to the next level of care. Depending on how members answer the first round of questions, follow-up questions can lead to exercise prompts or referrals to health and wellness coaches.

While the results of the work are still being analyzed, new innovations are underway, including a website that helps members find resources for physical activity.

The Thursday Dish: Healthy Stuffed Rainbow Peppers

Stuffed-Rainbow-Peppers_593x473pxToday, it’s another tasty recipe from the Food for Health blog — but this one has a twist.

There’s a great story behind this recipe, one that features a 12-year-old being recognized for her culinary creativity with an invitation to dine with First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

According to our friends at Food for Health:

Grace Wetzler is budding chef and healthy cooking advocate who took on the First Lady’s 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and decided to submit her recipe for healthy stuffed rainbow peppers into the contest.

“I was on spring vacation when I heard about the contest from my cousin. I thought about it and thought about it and tried to come up with some recipe ideas. And then the recipe just came to me on a whim. I put the ingredients together and it just worked! So I submitted my entry.”

Indeed, out of approximately 1,500 entries that were submitted, Grace’s delicious and nutritious stuffed rainbow peppers were among the 54 winners that made the cut. Grace was eventually notified that she was a winner and that she’d be headed to the White House to celebrate and enjoy a State Dinner with the First Lady and other dignitaries.

This colorful recipe is a great example of how Grace is already showing imagination in her cooking.  And it has the nutritional stats to back it up — 392 calories, 10 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 27 grams of protein.

Check out the recipe here.

Using New Technology and Innovation to Improve Care

robotRoving about the hospital on wheels, the InTouch Health® RP-VITA® robot lets doctors see and talk with patients, families, and staff in the intensive care unit in the middle of the night. From their home computers, doctors guide the robot, connect via secure video, and virtually respond to urgent needs in a matter of minutes.

The Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy’s latest Policy Story shows how a three-month pilot of InTouch® helped physicians improve communications and respond to after-hours emergencies at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Fremont, CA. Champions of this new technology are attempting to spread its use across the organization.

This exciting development is just one innovation being tested at Kaiser Permanente, where an extensive support system enables physicians and front-line staff to bring new ideas to life.

The Story also suggests ways to overcome innovation road blocks in health care when trying to get ideas moving. Here’s one of the tips:  Share best practices to generate enthusiasm through blogging, email updates, and demonstrations.

We’re following our own advice with this blog thanks to the Center for Total Health. Please pass it on.

Because a little mint makes everything better.

imageAn all-too-common summertime dilemma:  We have so much beautiful fresh fruit on hand, we don’t know what to do with it all.  Fear not.  Our good friends at the Food for Health blog have shared the recipe for a refreshing Mojito Fruit Salad. A perfect recipe to try out this weekend. Find it here!

Categories: Food

Helping patients ‘Find Their Thing’ is key to Exercise as a Vital Sign

Latifat T. Apatira, MD, MPH, fourth-year internal medicine and preventive medicine resident, believes that in order for Exercise as a Vital Sign (EVS) to succeed, health care providers need to help connect patients with resources in the communities where they live – outside of the exam room.

Part four of her seven-part blog highlights the community-clinic component of EVS, in which health care providers point their patients to a wealth of diverse programs and initiatives for fitness – what Dr. Apatira calls “finding their thing.”

The blog features several examples of community-clinic integration that Kaiser Permanente is exploring, as well as Dr. Apatira’s ideas of how to link patients to community resources.

Resources include:

  • City/Community Listings – Most official city websites have listings for activities that support physical activity.
  •  Parks Prescription – A movement to strengthen connections between the health care system and United States public lands, Park Prescription works with providers to encourage patients to get physically active at their local public parks.

Read the full blog to see more of Dr. Apatira’s health and fitness tips, including apps that track exercise levels.


Don’t Let the Heat Keep You on the Couch

For those of us who live in the swamp also known as Washington, DC, hot and humid summer days are nothing out of the ordinary (it’s a special thing when “feels like 90″ is a relief after days of “feels like 105!”). Even for veterans of the heat, it can be a convenient excuse to take a day — or two, or three — away from activity.

With seemingly unusual weather patterns hitting the United States this summer, it seems like a good time to share some hot weather exercise tips:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Not just before you exercise, but during and after, and just in general. Water is  your friend.
  • Exercise early in the morning, or later in the evening (personally, I think the morning is WAY more comfortable and has the benefit of fewer people and cars out).
  • Hit the gym and work out inside, in the glory of air conditioning.
  • Cut back a little (run a shorter route, or bike slower, or take more breaks).
  • Dress for the temperature in wicking materials (with built-in SPF, if you have them) and light colors.
  • Think about location, and opt for a walk, run, or bike on a route with more trees and less sun. Save your track workout for a cooler day (or before sun-up, if it’s a safe area).
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen (this won’t keep you cool, of course, but you should still do it!).
  • Consider hitting the local pool for some laps. Built-in heat relief!
  • Love the sweat. Embrace it as a sign of your hard work, rather than dreading it. Believe it or not, this helps. A lot.

If the heat wave is short, maybe you can take a day or two off, but don’t let the heat keep you on the couch for too long!

Check out these specific tips for runners and bikers, and learn more about heat-related illnesses to keep yourself safe here.



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