#healthcareinnovation Thursday

Residents in Carrollton, Ga., can use their smartphone or tablet to make healthy choices while dining out, thanks to a “Menu It” app launched by Tanner Health System. Offered as part of the health system’s Get Healthy, Live Well initiative, the app has info on calories and nutrients of menu items at local restaurants. 

Get Healthy, Live Well was launched by Tanner in 2012 as a way to move beyond sponsoring health fairs, which have minimal long-term impact. GHLW pursues policy changes, connects individuals with easy-to-access wellness programs, and collaborates with local churches, schools and other organizations to integrate healthy choices into the everyday lives of people in the community.

The results are positive: 

  • Get Healthy, Live Well program participants are reporting increases in exercise frequency, fruit and vegetable consumption, and self-care confidence. 
  • More than 25 local organizations, including clinics, universities, schools, and housing authorities, have implemented tobacco-free policies, affecting more than 60,000 individuals. 
  • Adult smoking rates in Carroll County declined from 23% in 2013 to 18% in 2017.

Though many hospitals offer programs that promote healthy behaviors, studies show that the specific techniques and strategies used are important to seeing and sustaining positive behavior changes and results.

New resources, more success stories

A new issue brief and case studies from the AHA share successful interventions and strategies from Tanner Health and other hospitals and health systems that are promoting healthy behaviors and improving individual and community health. 

More success stories from health systems:

  • NCH Healthcare and community partners in Southwest Florida launched the Blue Zones project, a well-being initiative focused on making healthy choices the easier options for everyone in the community. As a result, the Naples area has achieved the number one well-being ranking in the U.S. for four consecutive years.
  • Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mich., offers a free Core Health program that uses a social determinants of health risk assessment to identify what hinders participants from modifying their healthy lifestyles. More than half of participants have decreased their A1c levels, and overall, participants have had fewer hospital and emergency department visits. 

Effective strategies for behavior change

Though many hospitals offer programs that promote healthy behaviors, studies show that the specific techniques and strategies used are important to seeing and sustaining positive behavior changes and results.

Successful initiatives have common elements, including:

We know that 30% of health outcomes are affected by health behaviors like diet and exercise. Hospitals and health systems, often working with local organizations, are supporting patients and people in their communities to get healthier and stay healthy. 

As a result, hospitals and health systems are seeing positive impacts, including decreases in rates of smoking, diabetes and hospital readmissions, and increases in the amount of exercise and healthy eating.

You can download the Promoting Healthy Behaviors issue brief and case studies, all produced by the AHA Center for Health Innovation population health team, here.

Nancy Myers is vice president, leadership and system innovation, at the AHA Center for Health Innovation. 

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