Disease Management Update
Volume III, No. 37
January 4, 2007

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Table of Contents

  1. Healthcare Expenditures for Children with Obesity
  2. Disease Management Q&A: Measuring a Champion's Success
  3. HealthSounds Podcast: Wellness Champions: Developing a Network of Liaisons to Promote and Expand Your Wellness Program
  4. Leveling the Field with Care Support in Health Disparity Zones
  5. Survey of the Month: Preventing Hospital Re-Admissions
  6. Healthcare e-Marketing: How Healthcare Organizations Tap the Power of the Internet to Boost Business


1. Healthcare Expenditures for Children with Obesity

Children and adolescents who are obese or overweight have higher healthcare utilization and a significantly higher average of healthcare charges than their healthy-weight peers, according to a report in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

According to background information in the article, 30 percent of children in the United States are obese or overweight with six in ten having at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 25 percent having more than two risk factors for the disease. The authors note that more than 80 percent of obese 12-year-olds will carry their overweight status into adulthood.

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine analyzed data from 8,404 patients age 5 to 18 who attended a primary care clinic in the Midwest for well-child care visits during 2002 and 2003. Based on the patients' body mass index (BMI), 17.8 percent were overweight and 21.9 percent were obese. Of the obese children, only 42.9 percent had a discharge diagnosis of obesity, suggesting a significant rate of underdiagnosis. A significantly higher rate of utilization of laboratory services by overweight and obese children was found when compared to their healthy-weight peers.

"Children with overweight, diagnosed obesity and undiagnosed obesity," the authors write, "had significantly higher charges, with the highest for the diagnosed obesity category," with an average adjusted difference of $172.

To learn more about this report, please visit:
http://pubs.ama-assn.org/media/2007a/0101.dtl#2

2. Disease Management Q&A: Measuring a Champion's Success

Each week, a healthcare professional responds to a reader's query on an industry issue. This week's expert is William B. Baun, manager of wellness programs at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Question: How do you measure the success of wellness champion programs?

Response: If you look at some of the older data that's around, participation is very important. We can't belittle just counting heads. That's really important. But then you've got to move down to the behavior change that's taking place. You've got to have different measures for the different things that you're really going after, be it stress reduction or improved nutrition or increased physical activity. That could be collected via a health risk appraisal or other survey — true outcome data where you're measuring cholesterol or blood pressure, diabetic measures or efforts where you're just trying to get people to better manage their chronic diseases.

It depends on the programs you're running and the focus of your goals and objectives for that year. We find in our programs that we have a variety of different measures. You're trying to keep up with that officially and cost-effectively. There are some things that we would love to be able to measure, but we just can't do it cost-effectively.

For more details on how to train, manage and measure wellness champions, please visit:
http://store.hin.com/product.asp?itemid=3492

We want to hear from you! Submit your question for Disease Management Q&A to info@hin.com.

3. HealthSounds Podcast: Wellness Champions: Developing a Network of Liaisons to Promote and Expand Your Wellness Program

In this week's Disease Management podcast, Robin Foust, health management specialist and principal with Zoe Consulting, Inc., explains the benefits of having a good mix of wellness champions, from senior executives on down. Meanwhile, William B. Baun, manager of wellness programs at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, describes the typical wellness champ at his organization, how champions contributed to a recent International Wellness Challenge Day and the most effective recruiting practice for new wellness champions.

To listen to this complimentary HIN podcast, please visit:
http://www.hin.com/podcasts/podcast.htm#11

4. Leveling the Field with Care Support in Health Disparity Zones

There exist significant disparities in care among participants living in Health Disparity Zones (HDZ) — geographic areas with higher than average disease prevalence, which also frequently contain a higher proportion of minorities — according to a study by the Healthways Center for Health Research in conjunction with the National Minority Health Month Foundation (NMHMF).

The study examined the rates at which participants in Healthways' diabetes management program who live in areas with health disparity adhered to recommended standards of care for laboratory testing compared to those outside of the health disparity zones. The study was conducted among commercially insured health plan members continuously enrolled in a diabetes care support program.

"The findings of our study make it clear that care support is an integral tool in meeting the challenge of minority health disparities," said NMHMF executive director Gary A. Puckrein, Ph.D.

Older participants in the study living in HDZs showed a 93.3 percent increase in diabetes clinical testing after receiving telephonic care calls as part of the care support program compared to participants who could not be reached due to inaccurate phone numbers. Further examination of these health disparity areas revealed a 56.1 percent increase in clinical testing for older participants living in health disparity zip codes who were called, compared to called participants in non-disparity zip codes, a finding that supports the value of disease management programs in improving the quality of care in areas of health disparity.

To see more of this survey's results, please visit:
http://www.healthways.com/articles/press/20061204_DMAA06LeadershipAwardFINAL.html

5. Survey of the Month: Preventing Hospital Re-Admissions

Is your organization targeting hospital re-admissions? What risk factors do you target? What strategies are you employing, and which are finding the greatest success? Complete our survey and you'll receive a free executive summary of the compiled results.

To participate in this survey and receive its results, please visit:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=252463072894

6. Healthcare e-Marketing: How Healthcare Organizations Tap the Power of the Internet to Boost Business

Faced with consumers who are more knowledgeable and discriminating about benefits, healthcare organizations are intensifying marketing efforts to lure new clients and members and sustain a competitive advantage — and with more than 70 percent of America online, an Internet presence is an essential component of today's marketing strategies.

E-mail, Web sites, blogs, search engine optimization, and online databases and directories are just a few e-tools that have clicked with healthcare marketeers. However, some organizations are further along this path than others. In a recent online survey, the Healthcare Intelligence Network asked healthcare organizations to describe their Internet marketing efforts. Their experiences are presented in a free executive summary.

To download this complimentary white paper, please visit:
http://www.hin.com/library/registerheh.html
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