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  • February 20 2012

    HIMSS12: Rising to the Slimdown Challenge

    It's no secret that the U.S. isn't as healthy as it could, or really should, be. And, as our health care system is set up as a “react and respond” system, the unhealthier the population becomes, the more expensive health care becomes. As health care costs continue to rise, it becomes increasingly difficult to improve health outcomes. I think you'll agree that this is a pretty vicious circle.

    Eighteen months ago, our leadership at Fort HealthCare began rethinking our mission. Improving population health became a critical goal for our organization, and we evolved our mission statement to, “Improve the health and well-being of our community” to reflect that emphasis. Almost immediately, we began working on strategies to create a regional culture of wellness that infuses prevention into our current health care model.

    We honed in on obesity as one specific issue to address. Recent CDC information shows that more than 35 percent of men and women in the U.S. are considered obese. Even more worrisome, almost 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic conditions as well, including Type 2 diabetes, chronic heart disease and high blood pressure.

    Working with Cerner, we designed the Slimdown Challenge, a competition to address weight loss. Participants formed teams, attended official weigh-ins and will log their weight throughout the competition. The team with the highest percentage of weight-loss at the end of 12 weeks will win a $1,000 gift card for each team member. To help participants lose weight the right way, we're providing access to nutrition and exercise information, as well as health education resources, tools we hope will help accelerate a culture of health in Jefferson County and surrounding areas.

    A key component of the competition is a personal health record that all participants will receive, enabling them to track their weight and fitness efforts securely online. This accountability helps build an individual's engagement with their health, gives them additional visibility to their health information and helps familiarize them with new health technology we use in our hospital.

    Mike Wallace, Fort HealthCare CEO and a driving force behind shifting our focus to wellness, will be discussing the importance of improving the health of communities at HIMSS12 Tuesday (Feb. 21) from 3 – 4 p.m. in the Cerner booth (476). I encourage you to stop by and join the conversation around this topic.

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