construction meeting

What’s New with CTHNext

Progress continues on the renovations here at the Center for Total Health, with our re-opening just a month away. It’s hard to believe we’re in the home stretch of this project, and we’re all excited to see the end result.

Already this month, we have hit several big and visible milestones in the project: refinished floors, delivery of new technology and audio-visual equipment, and completion of new dry wall. Delivery of the various components our new exhibits will begin soon as well, culminating in the delivery of our life-sized sculptures at the end of the month.

Knowledge Briefing Center demolition begins...

Knowledge Briefing Center demolition begins…

and continues...

and continues…

...and the wall is GONE!

…and the wall is GONE!

We’re at the point in construction that feels like it’s impossible for everything to get done in the short time remaining, but our awesome contractors and architects assure us it will. Stay tuned for updates on the final product. As always, we’re sharing more frequent updates via twitter (@kptotalhealth).

clinicshot

Improving Health Through Investments in Safety Net Clinics

The second installment of the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy’s Research Roundup showcases contributions to safety net clinics. In 2013, Kaiser Permanente invested $1.9 billion in a variety of ways in its communities, including support for 113 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and 63 free clinics. The integrated health care system continues to bolster its investment in safety net clinics to improve care delivery and access to services for vulnerable and underserved populations.

Community Health Centers’ New Medication Protocol

Rachel Gold and a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon recently received media coverage for their study on Kaiser Permanente’s Aspirin, Lisinopril, and Lipid-lowering medication (ALL) quality improvement protocol. The protocol uses EHR tools to remind providers to prescribe these medications to patients with diabetes who are at high risk for heart attacks and strokes. In an earlier study (Dudl, 2009), these drugs were shown to reduce the risk of these cardiovascular events. The health organization’s internal success with uptake of ALL medications led to a reworking of the model for use in community health clinics. To date 55 community clinics have adopted a modified ALL protocol. In Gold’s study, the percentage of diabetic patients who received the drugs at these sites grew from 45 to 63 percent from June 2011 through May 2013.

Mid-Atlantic Safety-Net Clinics

This spring, researchers from the Mid-Atlantic region published a study in the Permanente Journal reporting the results of Kaiser Permanente’s Community Ambassador Program (CAP). CAP places employees in safety net clinics in northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and suburban Maryland to share best practices and provide resources to expand care. The results of this study showed CAP’s early successes: nearly 95 percent of clinics reported advances in patient care delivery, with quality improvements in weight screenings, adult tobacco use assessments, cervical cancer screenings, and breast cancer screenings. Clinics also reported offering more same day appointments and new services. As a result of CAP, many clinics adopted Kaiser Permanente’s evidence-based practices, and clinics were able to offer an additional 32,000 encounters.

Colorectal Cancer Screenings in Community Health Centers

Gloria Coronado and a team from Portland, Oregon were featured in a story highlighting their work to expand cancer services in federally qualified health clinics (FQHCs). Because these health centers have limited resources, many of their patients have never been screened for colon cancer or received a colonoscopy. Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research investigators conducted a pilot study in one FQHC, which showed that mailing safety-net patients at-home fecal immunochemical test (FIT) kits increased colon cancer screenings rates by 40 percent. The study’s success encouraged researchers to expand their outreach from one clinic to 26 clinics, which plan to mail 20,000 FIT kits to safety net patients this year. Researchers are also helping FQHCs adopt EHR tools to track test results and follow up with patients, as well as assisting FQHCs in finding resources to provide colonoscopies to patients who have a positive result on the at-home FIT test.

Next month’s research roundup will feature research studies about interventions to maximize wellbeing. For more information on the research studies in this month’s Research Roundup, please contact Al Martinez at Albert.Martinez@kp.org.

Q&A with Felicia E. Mebane, PhD, MSPH — AcademyHealth Innovator in Residence

Dr. Felicia E. Mebane (introduced in this post earlier this week) understands the power of a good podcast. That’s why she created Health Services Unplugged for her fellowship with the Kaiser Permanente-funded AcademyHealth Innovators-in-Residence Program. This blog and podcast series features interviews with researchers and professionals who investigate ways to improve care for vulnerable and safety net populations.

“Podcasts are really popular right now, so I wanted to explore how that format could be used to disseminate health services research,” Mebane said.

In a recent Q&A, Dr. Mebane discussed her past and her goals for this project.

Tell us a bit about the Innovators-in-Residence program, and why you were interested in being involved.

Through its Innovators-in-Residence Program, AcademyHealth invites professionals who have interesting, creative, or innovative skills, experience, or ideas to spend one to three months completing a project and working with AcademyHealth’s staff. Financial support allows innovators to take time from their regular responsibilities, whether they already focus on health services or come from other industries.

I wanted to participate in this program because of my background and focus. As a public health communications expert with health policy training, I am always looking for opportunities to help researchers disseminate their work. Also, I think the field of health services research can be more creative so that we can better engage in public debates and influence policy.

As you mentioned, each Innovator is tasked with working on an independent project. Would you mind providing an overview of your project, Health Services Unplugged?

The current series features a recent research publication or project and connects it to something in the news or popular culture. The approach is for me and/or another guest (for example, a student or community member) to chat with the researcher about their work and a little bit about themselves. The goal is to inform audiences and to inspire them to learn more.

We also wanted to see how people would respond to this format, including how much traffic the site would get and how willing folks would be to participate. I hope this project will continue and encourage others to leverage different media tools and forums to reach their stakeholders.

Who did you interview, what projects are they focusing on, and how did you select the interviewees?

My approach was to present a broad mix of research and researchers. I started my list of potential guests by looking at recent issues of Health Affairs and Health Services Research, talking with AcademyHealth staff, and connecting with my networks. For example, the series includes professors at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Wisconsin’s School of Public Health and a director of research from the Colorado Health Institute. Guests included a grade school teacher, a graduate student and a DC Councilman. Topics included health disparities, access to care and Medicare payments to physicians.

I also wanted each episode to include something you won’t hear in a typical interview. Additional themes include career advice, interesting translation and dissemination tools, and fun facts about the researchers.

Did you intend for your podcast series to reach patients in the populations, or were you focusing on impacting the perspective of providers, policymakers, and other health professionals who serve these patients?

I initially targeted students and early career professionals engaged in health services or policy. I also see the audience including journalists, staff who support policymakers and anyone else interested in these issues. Though patients were not our initial focus, I am excited about the possibility of finding partners who want to communicate directly with them.

What advice would you offer someone interested in being involved with Health Services Unplugged (HSU) or helping translate and disseminate health services research?

If you are interested in supporting HSU or working with us, please contact me via our webpage. In addition to volunteer opportunities, we hope to eventually offer internships and other opportunities. Stay tuned to our website for announcements.

For folks who are thinking about a career in health services research, I encourage you to take a seminar or workshop or even class on communications. ALL researchers have to write and talk about their work. Being able to do both well will serve you in your career and help the field. If you are already a great communicator, think about health services as a career. Some health services or policy programs also give you a chance to focus on public relations, broadcasting or other aspects of communications.

You can listen to Dr. Mebane’s full podcasts via iTunes, Android, or RSS.

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Meet the 2014-2015 AcademyHealth Innovators-in-Residence

Academy_HealthIn 2014, AcademyHealth’s Translation and Dissemination Institute (TDI) launched the Innovators-in-Residence Program. Funded by Kaiser Permanente, the Innovators-in-Residence program offers health professionals paid fellowships to assist AcademyHealth with distributing evidence-based health services research. During their fellowships, Innovators act as AcademyHealth consultants with responsibilities, such as leading committees and special groups, contributing to the AcademyHealth blog, and conducting seminars. Innovators also complete and present an independent project about original ways to transform research into policy and practice. Projects completed during the first year of the program focused on care delivery in safety net clinics and improving care for vulnerable populations.
 
Three fellows were selected between June 2014 and June 2015.
 

Ernest Moy, MD, MPH

Ernest Moy, MD, MPH

 
The first fellow was Ernest Moy, MD, MPH, a Medical Officer with the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. For his independent project, Dr. Moy developed a tool that assessed geographic and demographic characteristics in order to examine health disparities. Dr. Moy hopes that his model will be used in various cities to help policymakers design stronger disparity interventions.
 
AcademyHealth elected its second fellow, Linda Cummings, PhD, in January 2015. Dr. Cummings was previously Vice President for Research for America’s Essential Hospital, during which she gained experience with safety net hospitals and health disparities. For her fellowship project, which she will complete in the fall, Dr. Cummings is creating profiles outlining how three different safety net delivery systems approach research. She will release these profiles at the end of the summer. In the fall, Dr. Cummings will moderate a meeting about her project, and she will interview professionals from each of the three delivery systems. Links to her work will be posted to this page later this year.
 
Felicia Mebane, PhD, MSPH

Felicia Mebane, PhD, MSPH

 
The final 2015 fellow is Dr. Felicia Mebane, CEO of Mebane Media Communications and adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. During her time as an Innovator-in-Residence from April to June 2015, Dr. Mebane began working on a project called Health Services Unplugged, a podcast and blog series about health services research and the professionals involved in the field.
 

Supplementing Care with Telehealth

Imagine getting health care in the comfort of your home, using a smart phone to have a conversation with your physician, and even showing the doctor your physical symptoms with the phone’s camera. Telehealth is making this kind of care possible. It supplements in-person visits by allowing for more frequent communication with physicians using visual or audio technologies and helps physicians regularly monitor their patients.

Kaiser Permanente has seen the advantages of this technology and is implementing telehealth in primary care, neurology, inpatient rounding, mental health, and dermatology. One quickly developing area is teledermatology. KP members can send photos of their moles, lesions, and rashes or show them to their doctors via video chat.  (Watch the Thrive ad on telehealth.) Physicians can view these images and talk to their patients during the video chat or phone call. They can also send patients an email with a diagnosis and treatment options.

The availability of telehealth is valuable to both patients and physicians. Patients can save the cost and time of traveling to the doctor’s office. In Colorado, two out of three patients who participated in a teledermatology video visit did not need an in-person follow-up visit because their issue was resolved. It also allows physicians to provide efficient care. They can quickly diagnose and follow up with patients. Physicians can then spend more time focusing on patients who have to visit in-person for more serious issues.

While some may consider telehealth as a means to deliver care to patients in remote and rural areas, telehealth is valuable for everyone. It allows for more frequent and convenient communication with physicians that ultimately leads to higher quality care.

Read the KP Institute for Health Policy’s new Policy Story to learn more about telehealth and the policy changes that must be made to accommodate the growing need for this technology.

july pic

Celebrating Summer

Looking to trim down this summer?  Take advantage of the warm weather, skip the gym, and get active outside!

  • Explore your city or town.  Play games at the park, go for a bike ride around town, or do laps at the local pool.
  • Pack your snacks.  Plan ahead for your day and bring along fruit, nuts, and other healthy treats.
  • Bring water.  Avoid the temptation of sugary drinks by staying hydrated from the start.
  • Wear your sunscreen.  And remember to reapply it regularly if you’re outside all day.

If you live in a place that gets really hot, think about hitting the streets early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun isn’t a factor. Or save these ideas for the cooler fall weather that will be here before you know it.

Want to learn more about a healthy weight? Click here.

 

 

Summer is fun. Here’s how to keep it safe, too.

Excited about the arrival of summer? For good reason. Warmer weather brings with it favorite activities — vacations, swimming, camping, cookouts and lazy days in the sun.

To access a full-size PDF of perfect for printing, click here.

To access a full-size PDF of this infographic perfect for printing, click here.

But summer also means something less fun: an increase in visits to the emergency room. With kids out of school and spending more time outdoors — and especially around Independence Day — safety becomes a very real concern.

To help protect yourself and your family this 4th of July holiday weekend and in the coming months, here are highlights from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Red Cross and Kaiser Permanente on how to have a safe — and fun — summer.

Water Safety

Swimming and cooling off in the pool is one of the best things about summer. Be smart, and do it safely:

Spending Time in the Sun and Heat

When you’re spending time in the sun – or even if you are in the shade but the temperature is climbing – protect yourself from the sun’s rays and the summer heat.

  • Heat-Related Illnesses. Take them seriously and drink plenty of water. Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke escalate quickly and can be especially serious in children and the elderly.
  • Know Your SPF. Not all sunscreens are created equal. Learn why.
  • Sun Safety and Skin Cancer. Guard yourself and your family against the long-term dangers of the sun.

Healthy Getaways

Whether you’re taking a road trip with friends and family or the vacation of your dreams, plan ahead for a safe time away from home.

  • Camping. Keep campouts fun by planning ahead. Learn the ins and outs of insect repellent, safe food and water, campfires and cookouts, and emergency preparedness.
  • Travel. Before you embark on your journey, let your travel clinic or physician help. From vaccines to prescription medication, learn how to plan your travels with your health a priority.

Cooking and Eating

  • Summer Food Safety. Find out how to best protect you and your family from food poisoning, foodborne illnesses, cross contamination — and learn and the importance of cooking temperatures.
  • Grilling Safety Tips. When dealing with open flames, propane, charcoal or starter fluid, help prevent burns, injuries and damages with these precautions and general guidelines.

Injury Prevention

  • Sports. Know how to help your children prevent injuries from sports and recreational activities — including using the right protective gear or equipment.
  • Technology and Youth Violence. Learn more and talk with your kids about the emerging public health problem of “electronic aggression” among young people.

Bottom Line: Be Prepared

Even with the best planning, accidents still happen. You can ensure you’re ready to help if the need arises with professional training. Find a Red Cross class in First Aid and CPR near you and get certified — or take a refresher course.

Research Roundup: Staying One Step Ahead of Your Health

Close to 2,000 studies involving Kaiser Permanente (KP) clinicians and researchers are in progress at any given time across the organization’s seven regional research centers. This work helps to shape policy and practice for KP and the health care system at large as it strives to improve patient quality and satisfaction, population health, and reduce the per capita cost of care. To further this goal, each month the KP Institute for Health Policy will highlight several research studies with policy implications as part of our new research roundup series. The inaugural summary includes three studies that examine the effectiveness of steps that patients can take to help control the symptoms of a variety of health conditions.

Scanning for Alzheimer’s Disease

Rachel Whitmer from Northern California is part of a national leadership team for a study titled Imaging Dementia – Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS), led by the Alzheimer’s Association, managed by the American College of Radiology and the ACR Imaging Network, and funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Researchers will be examining a positron emission tomography (PET) scan that detects brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The research group will determine how this scan affects doctors’ treatment plans and patient outcomes. If the PET scan is shown to be beneficial, Medicare may decide to cover it. With an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, patients can receive proper care sooner to avoid accidents from cognitive impairments and to potentially slow the progression of the disease.

Supplements for Menopause

Another study examined whether vitamin D and calcium supplements help to alleviate menopausal symptoms. Erin LeBlanc from the KP research center based in Portland, Oregon conducted a longitudinal study and found that women who took these supplements had the same number of menopausal symptoms as those who did not. Some of the symptoms included sleep disturbance, emotional well-being, and fatigue. The average age of women at the beginning of the study was 64. Dr. LeBlanc suggests that future research on the effects of supplements on menopause should include younger women to see if the results are different based on age.

Lessening the Pain of Shingles

A study from Southern California was published this month about an additional benefit of the shingles vaccination. Hung Fu Tseng and his team found that those who get shingles after receiving the vaccination (herpes zoster) have a lower risk of developing a painful complication from the condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices currently recommends the vaccination for adults over 60 years old. This research provides additional support for the vaccination, both to decrease the likelihood of getting shingles and to reduce the severity of PHN and the mental health consequences from long-term pain.

Kaiser Permanente continues to set the bar for evidence-based care. Look for next month’s research roundup: the Institute will look at three studies about investing in community clinics. If you’d like to learn more about the research studies, please contact Al Martinez at Albert.Martinez@kp.org.

Progress Toward #CTHNext

Three weeks into construction at the Center for Total Health, we’re seeing real progress!


 

Lounge - Before Construction

Lounge – Before Construction

Lounge - During Construction

Lounge – During Construction

Back Hall - Before

Back Hall – Before Construction

Back Hall - During Demolition

Back Hall – During Demolition

 


Be sure to follow us on Twitter — @kptotalhealth — for more updates.

Keeping the Men in Your Life Healthy

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 4.22.59 PMMany men avoid visiting the doctor. We often joke about it, but when our dads, brothers, partners or friends put off having something looked at, it can result in very real consequences. Even though women on average visit the doctor 20 percent more often than men, it is men who have much higher hospitalization rates for preventable conditions.

So why do men seem to go out of their way to prevent calling the doc? Many men simply aren’t used to communicating about how they feel and aren’t comfortable asking for help.

Total Health Radio has dedicated an entire podcast episode to this topic, including tips for supporting the men in your life in staying healthy. You can check it out — along with additional information and resources — at its official web page. You can also listen to it here, via Stitcher
.

And to see the above infographic in its entirety, click here for the full-sized version.

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