Kaiser Permanente Lauded for Its Innovative Exercise as a Vital Sign Program

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Kaiser Permanente health plans in California were honored recently with a 2013 eValue8 Innovations Award for their groundbreaking Exercise as a Vital Sign program.

The National Business Coalition on Health , a non-profit organization of purchaser-led business and health coalitions, sponsored the award, which recognizes the innovative work of health plans to develop programs that address critical health care issues.

Developed by Kaiser Permanente to consistently capture information on a member’s exercise habits, Exercise as a Vital Sign raises the value of exercise so that it’s equal to other vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate. The program is intended to prompt important conversations between individuals and their providers.

Support tools incorporating physical activity assessment and tracking are within Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, the world’s largest non-governmental electronic medical record system, used throughout all Kaiser Permanente locations. Clinicians can view a patient’s minutes of exercise in KP HealthConnect and provide appropriate advice and referrals for that person to meet exercise recommendations.

“Asking an individual about how much daily physical activity he or she has participated in helps our providers learn about what matters to our patients and prompts patients to think about healthier habits,” said Lisa Schilling, RN, MPH, vice president, Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute . “It also allows us to connect the individual to resources and habits that promote better health.”

Two recent Kaiser Permanente studies that focused on Exercise as a Vital Sign show that the program is changing the way health care providers are working with patients. In a study published in 2012, researchers found that the program is successfully compiling accurate and valuable information that can help clinicians better treat and counsel patients about their lifestyles. And in December of last year, researchers found that asking patients about their exercise habits was associated with weight loss in overweight patients and improved glucose control for patients with diabetes.

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