December 05, 2013

NICHQ Expands Effort to Incorporate Healthy Weight Plans into Electronic Health Records to Help Address Childhood Obesity

Nurse speaking with mother and her daughter at the doctor's officeNICHQ is continuing its efforts to address childhood obesity by extending its pioneering work on incorporating healthy weight plans into electronic health records (EHRs).

Healthy weight plans are documents jointly developed by families and their primary care providers that specify which health behaviors — diet, physical activity, television watching, etc. — families will seek to improve, and how they will do it.

In its new Achieving Healthy Weight with Enhanced Electronic Health Records project, NICHQ builds on the work of a previous project, e-Plans to Promote Healthy Weight, which sought to have healthy weight measures incorporated into EHR platforms as a way to encourage the use of healthy weight plans to combat childhood obesity. The new project seeks to increase the number of EHR vendors that include healthy weight plans in their products and the number of clinicians using healthy weight plans in their practices.

“The idea of using healthy weight plans as a tool to promote healthier behaviors is gaining momentum,” said Shikha Anand, MD, MPH, NICHQ’s Obesity Program Director. “For the plans to be widely used, it is essential to incorporate them into EHR platforms and include them in clinical workflow. Having healthy weight plans as part of standard practice ensures family-centered discussions about health behavior change, which is one step in the right direction for addressing childhood obesity.”

NICHQ led the development of healthy weight plans through its work with 49 communities across the country in Collaborate for Healthy Weight. Under the umbrella of the Partnership for a Healthier America, NICHQ and its partner on this work, Avalere Health, convened an expert panel in 2012 that identified five essential processes for healthy weight planning and codified them into a “use case” that was shared with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. NICHQ has also provided its expertise to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Weight Electronic Health Record Expert Panel and engaged the interest of professional societies including the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Medical Association in supporting widespread adoption of healthy weight plans into clinical care.