Staying on Track with New Year’s Resolutions

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2018 is in full swing and that means we all are in the midst of keeping those resolutions for the new year. While maintaining resolutions, such as eating healthier and exercising more, can at times be a daunting task, especially when you add your work schedule, family and social gatherings to the mix, the Center for Total Health has a range of offerings available to help keep you on track.

As the Center hosts hundreds of tours and events each year, we are always innovating with different ways to make health more fun and accessible. Among our core goals is to provide healthy food for guests visiting the Center, whether it be for an hour or a week. Therefore, we have created “Healthy Picks” approved menus available to all of our guests. Not only is this food healthy and delicious, it helps keep meeting participants alert throughout the day (avoiding the post-lunch food coma and mid-afternoon sugar cravings), allowing for a more productive meeting. So, as you’re trying to pursue better eating habits this year, rest assured that you’ll be enjoying nutritious and tasty meals while attending a meeting at the Center.

Being active every day is a commitment we at the Center take very seriously. Along with improving physical health, activity gives a boost to the brain helping our attendees focus and stir creativity in meetings. Here at the Center, we offer the option of hosting walking meetings and have different maps for routes ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. For some extra innovative guests, we have posted a 7-minute workout that can easily be done while attending a meeting. Designed by the Human Performance Institute, Division of Wellness and Prevention, Inc., the workout only uses body weight, a chair, and the wall for 12 exercises to deliver a high-intensity workout. For more information, click here.

Along with pursing goals of eating better and being more active, it’s also important to take good care of your mental health. This past Fall, we at the Center launched our new and thought-provoking Mental Health and Wellness tour, offering insight to a wide range of personas whose health is impacted by varying degrees of mental health conditions or concerns. The Mental Health and Wellness personas introduce you to Kaiser Permanente and other innovators’ programs that showcase how important it is to integrate mental health care into your everyday health. Guests get the opportunity to see examples of mental health and wellness resources in various scenarios ranging from the broader community to the school classroom and the workspace.

Mental health and wellness affect everyone, and we look forward to providing visitors with a unique, educational and interactive experience that further highlights this important topic. Take a sneak peek here and make sure to schedule a visit to experience the Center’s tour first hand. And, good luck on keeping those resolutions – we know you can do it!

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health hosts internal and external educational events. All events – including annual banquets, quarterly meetings, trainings, interviews – feature healthy catering options and can be customized to incorporate the interactive exhibits that make the Center for Total health experience both fun and informative for attendees. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, please send us an event request via our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

It’s National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

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January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (and Jan. 22-28 is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week).

To bring some awareness of this important topic, we are sharing a recent Kaiser Permanente study, which has found a more effective way to test for the human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV infections are the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States and are the main cause of cervical cancer in women.

A study of more than 850 women demonstrated it is effective to conduct HPV test in the same preservative fluid as a Pap test. This has the potential to increase efficiency and decrease waste. As a result of the findings, organizations such as Kaiser Permanente can consider transitioning to single collection of a Pap test and HPV test, rather than sending two different samples to the lab, said lead author, Devansu Tewari, MD, MBA, a gynecologic oncologist at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County, California.

Both the Pap and HPV test are used to screen for cervical cancer. This research is a step toward making testing for HPV infections more simple and straightforward.

“The opportunity to move toward primary HPV screening would not have existed with the method we currently use,” Dr. Tewari said. “As future studies build upon this one, that potential of primary HPV screening is within reach. It is one of many ways we are working to enhance cervical cancer screening.”

Read more about the study here.

Telemedicine and a Vision for Health Care Without Walls

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Post written by: Susan Dentzer, President and CEO, NEHI

Consider these real-world vignettes:

o A mother is in the midst of an emergency delivery of a baby at a small local hospital. But her baby is born safely because her doctor got real-time guidance by videoconference from an academic medical center more than a hundred miles away.

o A low-income patient in rural Virginia has severe and disfiguring psoriasis. But he can consult with a far-away dermatologist by video about the latest treatments to help restore his function and appearance.

o A cancer patient prepares to start treatment, but then learns via videoconference from an expert at a major cancer center that her cancer was inadvertently misdiagnosed by her local oncologist. As a result, she receives a corrected diagnosis and starts the appropriate regimen.

On one level, these anecdotes tell the story of telemedicine: The ability of patients, and often their local clinicians, to have consultations over distances with other clinical experts who can bring their insights to bear on patient care.

On another level, these stories herald far more: The unleashing of a system of “Health Care Without Walls” that can spread and democratize medical knowledge; meet patients where they are, in their homes, communities, or other locations; focus new attention on the social and economic circumstances in which patients live most of their lives; and defy the conventional boundaries of time and distance to get the right care to the right patient when it is most needed.

So, with all these formidable benefits going for it, why is telemedicine – a decades-old technology – only now beginning to make a dent in the delivery of health care in the United States?

This question and others were discussed at a forum I participated in, entitled “Leveraging Telehealth to Expand Access to High-Quality Care” and hosted by Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Policy (IHP) at the Center for Total Health in Washington, D.C., on December 14. The forum brought together roughly 80 leaders from a variety of settings, including government, academia, advocacy groups, associations, think tanks, and health care providers to discuss the use of telehealth as an integral part of care delivery. Several themes emerged, including the potential impact of telehealth to improve access and quality, to help bend health care’s cost curve, and to address work force issues, such as perceived shortages of physicians. Challenges also surfaced, including the need to train and educate physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other care providers in caring for patients via telehealth; to address limitations on payment and reimbursement; and to fund further research to better understand telehealth’s promise.

As my organization, the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI), has discovered in our Health Care Without Walls initiative, the reasons telemedicine is not yet playing a major role in U.S. health care are practically innumerable – and familiar to any serious student of our nation’s health care system and health policy.

A primary concern is cost. There’s no doubt that telemedicine, along with the gradual movement of care outside of hospitals and other conventional institutional settings, has the capacity to reduce costs in the broadest sense – not just to the health care system, but to patients and others. For example, an employee who doesn’t have to leave the work site to consult with a doctor, doing it instead via telemedicine, is an employee who won’t lose hours of productivity in the process. The University of Virginia Medical Center at Charlottesville, which offers telemedicine in 60 specialties and subspecialties, estimates that it has spared patients more than 17 million miles of driving to the medical center to obtain care.

But outside of capitated health systems such as Kaiser Permanente, where fee-for-service and volume-based payment still reigns, payers see telemedicine as a cost add-on. Too often, they say, a telemedicine visit results in a “punt,” where a doctor may interact with a patient via telemedicine then refer the patient for a follow-up visit to a primary care doctor or even send them to a hospital emergency room. The bill from the telemedicine provider is then simply an “extra” added to the overall tab.

Although all state Medicaid agencies now cover some form of telemedicine, similar concerns about payment add-ons have prevented Medicare from fully embracing telemedicine as well. With only a few exceptions, such as a telemedicine waiver available to participants in the Next Generation ACO model, Medicare mainly limits payment for telehealth to rural Health Professional Shortage areas and to services that extend from closely defined “originating sites,” such as physicians’ offices, hospitals, and skilled-nursing facilities.

Unless the entire U.S. health care system moves to full risk-bearing models, so that providers have real incentives to find more efficient modes of care delivery, it’s unlikely payers will change their tune. More payment models that will support telehealth adoption are needed within Medicare and commercial insurance. At NEHI, we’re working to develop proposals to pay for telemedicine as a means of transitioning providers along a kind of glide path toward great risk-bearing payment models.

Regulatory barriers to a greater role for telemedicine also abound. A number of states still bar clinicians from making diagnoses unless a patient is physically present in the physician’s office. And as far as practicing telemedicine across state lines is concerned, fewer than half of states have signed onto the Federation of State Medical Boards’ Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which creates expedited pathways so physicians can apply for and receive licenses in states where they are not currently licensed – a prerequisite for conducting a lawful telemedicine session with a patient in another state.

These and other barriers – including health system inertia – must be addressed before telemedicine can reach its full potential. To spur a larger pro-adoption movement, however, it may be necessary to create a vision of future health care that supersedes any specific technology, whether telemedicine, remote monitoring, or even robotics. A true system of Health Care Without Walls could constitute more truly universal care that better united individuals, populations, and their care providers in direct pursuit of better health. Who among us could ask for more?

Holiday Season Also Means It’s Flu Season

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As the holidays are in full swing, the flu season, unfortunately, is also off to an early start. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza activity in the United States this year has been increasing since the beginning of November and indicators were higher than is typically seen for this time of the year. Among the states that reported the most widespread activity included Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma. The good news is, however, that the majority of the influenza viruses characterized thus far are among the strains targeted in the year’s flu vaccine. Since the flu is more serious that the common cold, preventative measures are crucial.

While National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec 3-9) may be over, it is never too late to get your flu shot. People of every age are at risk for the contagious respiratory illness and the annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against this potentially serious disease. Although a majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur in people 65 years and older, even healthy young children and younger adults can develop serious complications or even die from the flu— so protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated.
Remember, the flu shot is available at no charge to our members when given at a Kaiser Permanente medical facility. Click here to find flu clinic information in your area.

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health hosts internal and external educational events. All events – including annual banquets, quarterly meetings, trainings, interviews – feature healthy catering options and can be customized to incorporate the interactive exhibits that make the Center for Total health experience both fun and informative for attendees. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, please send us an event request via our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

Hot Topics at the Center

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A lot has happened recently at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health, where we proudly host regular meetings with local community clinics and providers on a wide range of topics. As such, in November, we continued our series of meetings on HIV and AIDS to share best practices in caring for low-income and high-risk populations. This is just one example of the quarterly scheduled convenings with local providers that the take place at the Center.

As the global warming debate continues, we hosted a Health Care Without Harm meeting with key industry leaders on the greening of health care. Through tours at the Center, guests learned about the importance of the best environmental practices in health care and how health care providers, as well as institutions, are cleaning up their practices to help protect the communities that we serve.
We were also excited to welcome back Trust for America’s Health, who hosted their annual board meeting and conducted a deep dive on key issues surrounding preventing epidemics and protecting health.

Among other activities that took place at the Center during the month of November included:
• Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Policy activating a series on key topics in health care, with the first convening focusing on “Advancing Mental Health and Wellness”. The event brought together local and national leaders across various sectors to re-examine the challenges facing the field of mental health and wellness, with the ultimate goal of setting priorities for shared work. A second forum takes place this month on “Leveraging Telehealth To Expand Access to High Quality Care”.
• The Center hosting the Presidential Management Fellows’ Leadership Development Program, which was created three decades ago by Executive Order to help entry-level, advanced-degree federal employees advance as government leaders. Kaiser Permanente’s staff participated in discussions about work-life balance and offered tips on resiliency and managing stress.
• The widely attended international event, Better Health Governance, Better Health Systems. The Evidence. Hosted by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Health Finance and Governance (HFG) team, participants were invited to exchange the latest scientific findings on what contributes to better health system performance. The workshop, representing national and international systems, was part of a larger initiative led by the World Health Organization.

As a non-profit, Kaiser Permanente is committed to reinvesting in communities to help support the entire community’s health, not just our members’. Hence, every now and then, we at the Center attend offsite events to do so. This past month, during the National Alliance for Health Care Purchaser Coalitions conference in Crystal City, we demonstrated our Baltimore Virtual Reality exhibit on total health in the community. The exhibit provoked conversations on sustainable community economies, job training programs for at risk youth, building a sense of community and other topics that contribute to a healthier community. Guests who experienced the exhibit were amazed that Kaiser Permanente – or any health care provider – was thinking about topics beyond the delivering of care.

The Center closed the month by hosting Safe Routes to School and other organizations’ annual board meetings. Due to our innovative environment providing an aspirational backdrop for planning sessions, representatives from CVS and international groups from an array of countries found the Center to be a unique experience when thinking about the future of health and how they can learn from Kaiser Permanente and other innovators represented here.

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health hosts internal and external educational events. All events – including annual banquets, quarterly meetings, trainings, interviews – feature healthy catering options and can be customized to incorporate the interactive exhibits that make the Center for Total health experience both fun and informative for attendees. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, please send us an event request via our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

Patient Portals a Helping Hand for Families

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A new study – designed with the direct assistance of Kaiser Permanente members who use kp.org shows just how valuable the patient portal has become for helping family members to participate in each other’s care.

Kaiser Permanente has offered its members an online patient portal (kp.org) for more than a decade, allowing them to conveniently access health care information, communicate with clinicians, refill prescriptions, schedule appointments, and more. The portal provides the opportunity to set up accounts for assisting family members with their health care.

In a survey, more than a quarter (27.5 percent) of 1,392 health-plan members with chronic conditions who were registered to use kp.org also used it to help a family member.

Mary Reed, DrPh

“We were interested to see such a high rate in our system,” said Mary E. Reed, DrPH, research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. “Studies of portal use in other health care systems found rates as low as 1 percent.”

More than 60 percent of those who cared for family members via the portal were using it for a spouse, a third for a child or grandchild, and 11 percent for a parent or grandparent. Furthermore, 94 percent of members who used the portal to help family member said it was more convenient than other ways of participating in another person’s health care, and 92 percent said it was faster.

To read more on the study, check out the full story on the Northern California’s Division of Research “Spotlight.

 

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

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Currently, more than 5 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to rise to as high as 16 million by 2015.

In honor of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, the Center for Total Health would like to highlight its new and thought-provoking tour focused on Mental Health and Wellness. The tour offers insight to a wide range of personas whose health is impacted by varying degrees of mental health conditions or concerns, including Alzheimer’s disease, which is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.

The Mental Health and Wellness personas introduce you to Kaiser Permanente and other innovators’ programs that showcase how important it is to integrate mental health care into your everyday health. Guests get the opportunity to see examples of mental health and wellness resources in various scenarios ranging from the broader community to the school classroom and the workspace. For those specifically worried about a loved one who may have early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, our tour identifies potential resources that may be of help.

We’ve already begun preliminary tours for the Mental Health and Wellness tour at the Center. If you would like a preview, make sure to schedule a time to see the content currently in development. You can also catch a behind the scenes look of the tour here. At the Center, we are working with various departments across Kaiser Permanente to destigmatize mental health issues, especially those around Alzheimer’s disease, and promote access to care and other resources.

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health hosts internal and external educational events. All events – including annual banquets, quarterly meetings, trainings, interviews – feature healthy catering options and can be customized to incorporate the interactive exhibits that make the Center for Total health experience both fun and informative for attendees. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, please send us an event request via our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

Picture: Rosemary, caregiver and wife of Leo (in the background), worries about his forgetfulness and whether it is a sign of dementia or more. Come take a tour and hear their story.

It was a great October at the Center!

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Here’s what you missed at the Center for Total Health in October

October was a busy month at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health. We were proud to host a variety of groups for tours and meetings. We began the month with The American Society of Hematology (ASH) leadership team joining us for their planning meeting, using the Center’s exhibits and healthy meeting policies as a backdrop for productive planning efforts to further their mission. The Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC), a public-private partnership with the sole objective of advancing medical device regulatory science, held their member meeting at the Center, while the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC)  met with contractors supporting health IT infrastructure and systems architecture for the NIH.

The Center welcomed several additional groups to advance their work in a wide variety of health arenas:

As always, Kaiser Permanente hosted several of its own meetings at the Center with key stakeholders and opinion leaders. While Kaiser Permanente International hosted The World Bank and influential representatives from multiple Latin American countries to brainstorm ways to improve their health care systems, other departments across Kaiser Permanente hosted meetings with the Association of Mutual Health Insurance Company (AMHIC) and the Federal Health Benefit Officers to discuss benefits and range of service offerings available to its members.

Throughout October, the Center also welcomed various tour groups including: the Canadian Embassy, George Washington University’s Department of Health Policy Fellows and staff members from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

We closed the month with attendees from the American College of Emergency Medicine conference participating in an evening reception at the Center with Kaiser Permanente staff and physicians. The Center was also proud to serve as a backdrop for a video production on clinical excellence.

If you would like to know more about the above meetings, we would be happy to introduce you to key contacts at any of the participating organizations. At the Center, we take pride in helping make meaningful connections between our guests and advance the initiatives discussed here.

Launching in November: We’ll begin preliminary tours for our new Mental Health and Wellness tour at the Center. If you would like a preview, make sure to schedule a time to see the content currently in development. At the Center, we are working with various departments across Kaiser Permanente to destigmatize mental health issues and promote access to care and other resources.

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health hosts internal and external educational events. All events – including annual banquets, quarterly meetings, trainings, interviews – feature healthy catering options and can be customized to incorporate the interactive exhibits that make the Center for Total health experience both fun and informative for attendees. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, please send us an event request via our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

Healthy Eating for a Healthy Meeting

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Lunchtime often provides a crucial moment to refresh during a hectic workday, conference or meeting. But without carefully considering the nutritional value of this midday meal, people can often find themselves in a post-lunch slump, or even tugging at their tightening waist bands as the weeks go by.

Seemingly balanced lunch options can hide a lot of calories. A typical boxed lunch of a turkey sandwich, apple, small bag of potato chips and cookie can stack up to almost 1,400 calories. With national nutritional guidelines recommending approximately 700 calories per meal, eating those extra calories even once a week can add up to gain of more than 10 pounds per year.

Sugary sodas, juices, and other artificially sweetened beverages also play a leading role in sabotaging healthy eating. Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, asserts that Americans drink 46 gallons of soda and sweetened beverages each year, contributing to consumption of 71 pounds of sugar and 85 pounds of corn syrup annually.

Kaiser Permanente has made it easier for its employees, patients, and visitors to enjoy healthier options without the guess work and calorie counting through guidelines containing criteria for making healthier food choices. Established in 2005 by the Healthy Picks Committee – a group of registered dieticians, food service directors, nutritionists and physicians – these guidelines help determine what options are available to hospital patients and in cafeterias. The guidelines also serve as the basis for Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Catered Food Policy, which requires vendors who provide meals for on-site meetings and events to provide healthy food options, like at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health.

The Center for Total Health is committed to partnering with organizations to host healthy meetings that drive focus and creativity by serving nutritious food and incorporating activity into meetings that can otherwise be sedentary affairs. By requiring that caterers who provide food for the Center adhere to the policy’s guidelines, event organizers and attendees are rest assured they’re enjoying healthy and delicious meals during their meetings.

Taking a cue from Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to healthy eating habits, workplaces and employees can work together to get everyone involved in sharing healthy meals:

  • Encourage employees to make water interesting by infusing fruits, vegetables and herbs, like in these healthy drink recipes;
  • Provide healthier on-site beverage options – like sparkling water, tea and coffee – instead of sugary beverages;
  • Plan a Smoothie Social and provide employees with information on the excessive sugars found in many prepared smoothies, and then work together to make healthier smoothies that include unsweetened yogurt as a protein and base, whole fresh fruit instead of juice, lots of nutritious greens like spinach and kale, and add-ins like nuts, spices or herbs; and
  • Host a BYOS (Build Your Own Salad) event and invite employees to bring in their favorite ingredient for a salad bar.

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health hosts internal and external educational events. All events – including annual banquets, quarterly meetings, trainings, interviews – feature healthy catering options and can be customized to incorporate the interactive exhibits that make the Center for Total health experience both fun and informative for attendees. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, please send us an event request via our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

BUILDing Together for Healthier Communities

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Health is commonly thought of through the lens of health care–the doctor’s office, the emergency room, and the prescriptions. But in reality, much of health is dependent on our environment—our homes; our access to fresh food and transportation; where we work, live, and play. On September 12, the BUILD Health Challenge (BUILD) announced awards to 19 communities that are breaking new ground in their efforts to address the root causes, or upstream factors of health in their own community. Representatives from each community, (including leaders from local community-based organizations, hospitals or health systems, and public health departments) gathered at the Center for Total Health in Washington, DC, the next day to kick off their two-year journey with BUILD.

As BUILD awardees, these communities from across the country are tackling a variety of issues, including: transportation planning, quality of housing, workplace tobacco policies, and more with the goal of improving community health. And core to each community’s efforts is the application of Bold (policy oriented), Upstream, Integrated (multi-sector partnerships), Local (resident engagement), and Data-driven (BUILD) approaches. Funders for this second round of the BUILD Health Challenge have committed resources totaling $8 million to support these endeavors, and each selected community identified local hospital partners that will collectively add more than $5 million in both monetary and in-kind support to the project.

The Center for Total Health was the perfect setting for us all to champion this multi-sector approach. With interactive exhibits showing how health in the community can be improved and made sustainable through a shared commitment to moving resources, attention, and action upstream.

Now in its second round, BUILD is one of the nation’s most promising efforts to improve health in vulnerable neighborhoods. Already the initiative has yielded innovative new cross-sector approaches such as remodeling of homes to improve indoor air quality and control childhood asthma; leveraging data to better understand patient needs and behaviors beyond the clinical setting to promote healthy lifestyles; reimagining food supply and distribution channels in communities to address food insecurity, and more.

While at the Center for Total Health, participants engaged with peers through hands-on workshops, mingled with each other during networking sessions, and made the most of their surroundings throughout the day. The event began with a collaboration session, a chance for the 19 communities to share commonalities, by region and by issue-area, and share learnings. A storytelling workshop followed, challenging community members to craft and share a compelling story that championed and advanced their project’s effort.

The closing keynote featured a conversation between NPR reporter Allison Aubrey and The Kresge Foundation’s Chris Kabel, in which Aubrey shared her insights on the complex role of food and nutrition in communities, along with what it takes to craft a captivating story. The concluding Q&A session allowed the communities to dig deep into her expertise in journalism and learn how to engage their audiences to help amplify their stories and create meaningful change.

We are excited to see what they will BUILD in the years to come! For those who are interested in learning more, visit buildhealthchallenge.org for additional information.

The BUILD Health Challenge is made possible with the support and leadership of: The Advisory Board Company, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Episcopal Health Foundation, Interact for Health, The Kresge Foundation, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, New Jersey Health Initiatives, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Telligen Community Initiative, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.