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First EHRs... Now Social Engagement of Patients

Posted Sep 07 2012 12:00am

West County Health Centers, a Northern California private, non-profit health organization, has deployed what may be the nation’s first social platform designed to engage patients in their own healthcare. The Health Center has rolled out a private, cloud-based social healthcare platform, within its patient population. Extending care and patient engagement outside provider visits is proven to improve healthcare outcomes and reduce costs. 

The platform, WellFX, is a private, secure, HIPAA compliant social platform for providers to deploy in their patient, staff and agency communities.  Because it is provider directed, both patient and provider have confidence in the efficacy of the information, education and motivation being given.  Providers can create managed and unmanaged communities for patients to meet and share experiences while accessing provider created education and healthcare content.  It works to provide complete patient confidentiality, anonymity and data protection. 

The social platform deployed at West County Health Centers will create an extension of the health center by connecting patients with one another, augmented by educational content that is germane to their condition, ensuring that patients are connected with the right people and the right information at the right time. The success of the initiative will be measured in the short term by patient adoption and feedback, in the mid-term by the level of patient activity on the platform, and in the long term on measurable healthcare outcomes such as improved hemoglobin levels in diabetes patients, and reduced recidivism in addiction patients.   It will also be deployed in staff-only community groups where staff can participate and share best practices and success stories across teams and agencies.

“Engaging and motivating patients to change behaviors that result in improved healthcare outcomes is the holy grail of primary care,” said Dr. Jason Cunningham, Agency Medical Director at West County Health Centers. “It is a brutal truth that primary care doesn’t do behavioral change well.   It demands that we think and act differently; and we need new tools and technology to make this happen.  The potential we see in WellFX is enormous – it is a tool to effect profound change whereby the provider can act as both educator and facilitator of improved patient behaviors beyond the boundaries of the healthcare visit.”

West County Health Centers was one of the first community health centers in Northern California to deploy Electronic Health Records.  Now it is trail-blazing by using an innovative social platform to disrupt the status quo of patient engagement.  By getting patients to engage with each other outside of on-site visits they are setting the stage for achieving better outcomes for patients.

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