e-Plans to Promote Healthy Weight

At a Glance

What: A project to enhance the capabilities of electronic health records (EHR) to include healthy weight plans. The plans are developed by primary care clinicians and families to help children adopt healthy behaviors oriented to achieving their optimal weight.
 
Why: Rates of childhood obesity have been and continue to rapidly rise. Making healthy weight plans a standard element of EHRs will make it easier for parents, caregivers and providers to keep track of healthy weight measures and have an impact on reversing the childhood obesity epidemic.
 
Who: The project tapped into experts in obesity prevention, behavior change, practice redesign and medical informatics to define the key elements and functions an EHR must include to support the effective use of healthy weight plans. The project also engaged the EHR community to learn what approaches are already embedded in current systems, and to relay the desired functionality so that vendors can implement healthy weight plans into existing platforms.

When: November 2012 until March 2013

Partners: The project was funded by Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), in partnership with Avalere Health LLC.

Background

The rates of childhood obesity have tripled from the 1970s to 2000s, resulting in one in five children being obese. The widespread clinical use of healthy weight plans is one step toward reducing childhood obesity. Co-created by a family and primary care provider, healthy weight plans set fitness and dietary goals, identify steps to achieve the goals, and track overall progress.
 
Establishing healthy weight plans as a tool to promote healthier behaviors has gained momentum since the federal government’s Let’s Move initiative began, but if the plans are to be widely used, they and other standardized assessments, such as BMI, must be incorporated into EHR platforms. This integration will make it easier for doctors to routinely create and access the plans.

Project Overview

The e-Plans to Promote Healthy Weight project took a two-prong approach to aiding the integration of healthy weight plans in EHR platforms.

First, NICHQ and Avalere engaged a spectrum of experts in obesity prevention, behavior change, practice redesign and medical informatics to define the key elements and functions an EHR must have to support the effective use of healthy weight plans. Second, the team paired with EHR vendors to share the desired functionality and make the case to the vendors for standardizing health behavior assessments into their systems.

In NICHQ’s portfolio of healthy weight projects, it has seen the success teams have had in supporting and tracking health outcomes by customizing healthy weight measures into their unique EHR systems. By getting vendors to pre-populate healthy weight plans and measures into the standard software package, this successful tactic has the ability to spread across practices much faster.

By March 2013, the project succeeded in having multiple vendors committed to implementing changes to their existing platforms.

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