Guest Post: Sun Health’s Community Health Focus Promotes Patient Engagement, Healthy Living

JDrago headshot 2-2013Jennifer Drago, FACHE, MHSA, MBA, Vice President of Business Development, Sun Health

What do you envision or expect will be the most significant opportunities for the population health management industry in 2014?
I believe that the biggest opportunity our industry has is in educating health care consumers about the role they play in maintaining and improving their own health, especially when living with one or more chronic illnesses. If providers and payers alike are able to provide opportunities and reduce barriers for consumers to undertake behavioral modifications to improve their health and well-being, we may encourage positive change that not only benefits the consumer, but also decreases financial and resource strains on the entire health care system.

At Sun Health, we’ve focused on providing education and self-management support that assists community members in having a successful recovery. Through our Care Transitions program, nurses visit patients in the hospital, again when they are home and follow up with phone calls during the post-discharge period. Care Transitions nurses educate and monitor adherence to medication schedules, share information about what signs and symptoms to watch for following a major chronic disease procedure or hospital stay, and connect participants to community resources such as transportation and home-delivered meals. The ongoing support and guidance encourages patients to take ownership for their health, and has reduced readmissions for the target population by more than 60%. Next, we are launching a Center for Health & Wellbeing where those with chronic disease can benefit from personalized health assessments, action plans designed by dietitians and exercise physiologists, and assistance in making lifestyle modifications when needed.

What will make 2013 a successful year for our industry in policy, research, and technology?
Identifying triggers that negatively impact health and collaborating to address these issues. In the retirement areas that Sun Health serves, for instance, we’ve learned that a lack of transportation options is a major reason why some seniors can’t access health care services, stay connected via social engagements and even shop for groceries. Although our core service is community health programs, we believe we must support transportation improvements in our area. If we can help solve a significant issue such as transportation, we will enhance the health and wellbeing of our community which, in turn, assists in achieving our mission of being an advocate for healthy living.

What are some of the opportunities and avenues for collaboration in the industry, as well as to the importance of communication for engagement?
We absolutely have to collaborate to address the impact of chronic disease in new ways that activate and engage patients in self-monitoring their conditions and in undertaking lifestyle modifications where needed. In addition, involving patients in the story telling and testimonials that share the benefits also would further personalize the impact of population health and ultimately, conserve valuable resources for both providers and consumers.


Guest Blog Post Disclaimer CCA invites guest bloggers to post on Voice on Population Health Blog as a benefit for our members and the industry and to allow for exchange of ideas and information regarding population health. The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and/or of the company the author represents and do not represent those of the Care Continuum Alliance (CCA), its members, or the industry as a whole. CCA is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this guest post article. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author(s) and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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