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Safeway's Foodflex, Healthy Eating, and PHRs

Posted Dec 20 2008 5:40pm
What if wellness-program participants, especially those on diets, had an automatic record of all their food purchases?

And what if that record gave them the nutritional value of the food they ate each week, and offered better choices?

This kind of real-time feedback could help people become more aware of their health habits and increase participation in wellness and health management programs.

That's one point made in a recent blog posting by Ted Eytan, MD, focusing on Safeway’s Foodflex program.

What Can I Eat?

The number one question many doctors receive from a patient after a diagnosis, says Eytan, is “what should I eat?”

Eytan, a family physician interested in “patient empowerment and patient-centered health information technology” makes an important connection between Personal Health Records (PHRs) and Safeway’s program.

Foodflex uses consumers’ food-club cards to monitor and graph the nutrients they purchase and presumably consume. For participants in wellness programs there are three strong incentives to use the Foodflex site. Shoppers can:
  • Compare household purchases against USDA guidelines
  • Find healthier alternatives to current standbys
  • Track household nutrition trends.
“I think the power of this data is in the ability to self reflect on what we are actually buying,” says Eytan. “The occasional jar of peanut butter is sometimes more occasional than we think, for example.”

Food Data and PHRs

Eytan would like to see this kind of consumption data be fed into patients’ PHRs.

“Our food record is as important and maybe more important than our biomedical record,” he says. Adding consumption data to PHRs could “assist patients with specific dietary needs or goals…. Availability of data is a great first step. And the beginning of a revolution of rising expectations….”
What Does This Mean for Wellness?
For those in the wellness business, programs like Foodflex offer a wonderful tool for the people we serve. Consider setting up your own account, and showing others how to do the same.
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