Combining high-tech and high-touch to offer members personalized options to improve their health
BY TERRY GILLILAND, MD – At Blue Shield, we’re committed to bringing health care into the digital age while providing Californians access to health care that’s worthy of our family and friends. We believe having accurate, interconnected healthcare information creates opportunities for health innovations that can improve the quality and sustainability of the entire healthcare delivery system.
A powerful example of the value of interconnected healthcare information can be seen in the 2018 Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index. This interactive tool was created by studying more than 200 conditions impacting the health and well-being of commercially insured members across the country to identify the top 10 conditions affecting our members at the state and even the county level. By understanding which conditions have the greatest impact on our members, we can thoughtfully design programs and services to help them live healthier, fuller lives.
This population-level information on the health of our communities reveals that many of the leading health conditions facing Californians can be related to our lifestyles, such as:
- hypertension (#1 in California)
- high cholesterol (#3)
- type 2 diabetes (#4)
- coronary artery disease (#5)
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (#9)
Research shows these types of conditions can be prevented, treated and even reversed when people access what we call lifestyle medicine. Lifestyle medicine provides a structured, clinician-guided approach to healthy lifestyle changes to prevent, treat and even reverse lifestyle-related chronic disease. These programs can include a healthy diet; regular physical activity; adequate sleep; stress management; tobacco cessation; and other non-drug interventions.
Lifestyle medicine is often the safest, least invasive and most cost-effective way to address these chronic conditions, and it empowers people to take control of their own well-being.
Blue Shield of California’s own lifestyle medicine programs are achieving remarkable results. In 2017, we launched our Diabetes Prevention Program, offering both digital and in-person options to support our members’ health goals. Over the course of six months, 7,400 people lost an average of 3.4 percent of their body weight by changing their diets and increasing their physical activity within a structured, supportive program. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this level of weight loss results in a staggering 38 percent decrease in their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Our Diabetes Prevention Program is just one of the lifestyle medicine programs we currently offer our members through WellvolutionTM, our comprehensive suite of clinically validated diet and lifestyle programs. Other Wellvolution programs include:
- Ornish Reversal Program, a research-based, in-person program that focuses on intensive diet and lifestyle changes to help members reverse heart disease with minimal use of drugs or surgery.
- Quitnet, a clinically validated program designed to help members stop using tobacco and reduce their risk of COPD using nicotine replacement therapy and highly trained quit coaches.
- Walkadoo, which provides daily, personalized physical activity recommendations via app, text and email to help members maintain an active lifestyle and reduce their risks for conditions such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension. For our Trio ACO HMO members, it also includes a Fitbit activity tracker, free of charge.
- Daily Challenge, which sends users daily wellness goals to help them remain focused on well-being, with digital tools to help reduce stress and address high blood pressure. Members can opt for a random health challenge each day or choose from dozens of unique well-being tracks targeting areas of health including physical, mental, emotional, financial, prenatal and more.
To build on this success and increase the number of providers who are trained to deliver lifestyle medicine, Blue Shield is taking a leadership role to help educate our network providers on these powerful lifestyle treatments. In collaboration with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, we’re offering certification courses and trainings for physicians and health coaches so more Californians can receive this remarkable kind of patient-centered care. For more information about our commitment to offering lifestyle medicine for our members, please see this video featuring some of Blue Shield’s top clinical leaders.
With tools such as the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index and other population health technologies under development, we are excited about the future of personalized health programming. By bringing healthcare into the digital age while still delivering personal service, we can improve each member’s experience as an individual, and make significant and lasting transformations to the entire system to improve the health of all Californians.