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An HIT Moment with … Don Kemper, CEO, Healthwise

June 24, 2011 Interviews No Comments

An HIT Moment with ... is a quick interview with someone we find interesting. Donald W. Kemper is founder and CEO of Healthwise of Boise, ID.

6-24-2011 7-48-19 PM

Describe Healthwise, its incorporation as a non-profit, and how it is similar or not similar to the typical healthcare content vendor.

I see Healthwise as a not-for-profit force for good. Our mission is to help people make better health decisions. It is that mission that drives us both to serve and to lead our clients and partners.

With each advance in technology, our mission challenges us to find new ways to help people do more for themselves, to help them ask for the care they need, and to help them say no to care that is not right for them. And, by the way, to accomplish all that, we develop really great content.

We’ve had this same mission since our founding in 1975. Our mission never changes, but how we implement it changes every day as new technology, new partners, and new policies open new opportunities. After each user session with Healthwise content, we count a “mission point.” We track those user sessions on a mission point counter in our lobby. On June 8, our counter hit our one billionth mission point. That was very cool, but each mission point is a cause for celebration.

How else are we different as a non-profit? Well, we can’t be bought and there is no need to worry about quarterly shareholder reports. Our total focus can be on doing the right thing and helping our partners to be successful.

What are the company’ s offerings and how they co-exist with healthcare IT?

Health IT has enabled Healthwise to innovate in a hundred ways — all for the benefit of the patient. In the old days, we used books and workshops to educate, motivate, and inspire people. Through HIT, we can do it even better, in a more personalized way, and for millions more people than before. Consider the following information services offered with the consumer’s best interest in mind:

  • EMR Solutions. Doctors are busy, and with Meaningful Use, they have even more on their plates than ever. Our EMR Module makes it easy to deliver patient education from the EMR desktop, optimized to provider workflow. Patient instructions in English, Spanish, and other languages to support refugee populations.
  • PHR Solution. Patients need help understanding the medical data now accessible to them electronically under Meaningful Use. Our Knowledgebase connects the patient’s medical data to plain language information on lab results, medications, problem lists, and patient self-management tools.
  • Virtual Coaching Conversations (Shelly Visits). Imagine a private coaching session with a health educator to help you understand your condition and develop an action plan for self-management. Next, imagine the same session with a virtual coach named Shelly who can visit you anywhere, anytime, and as often as you like. Shelly Visits use motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other proven techniques along with voice and graphics to mimic (and sometimes improve upon) a one-to-one coaching session with a health educator or coach, but without the hourly rate of the professional. So far, we have 15 different Shelly Visits across key wellness and chronic condition issues. You should ask for an appointment with Shelly.
  • Decision Points. These interactive patient decision aids walk a person through a six-step process for evaluating what is known about treatment options against his or her values, preferences, and desires. Do I need this test? Should I take this medication? Is this surgery right for me? With a summary from a Healthwise Decision Point, a patient is well prepared to work with his or her doctor to make the right treatment choice.
  • Care Management Solution. Our newest solution helps care coordinators to easily prescribe and deliver patient-specific self-management guides and decision support tools and to report back the patient’s use of those tools. The “report back” feature allows the patient’s voice to be better heard in shared decision making and care plan creation. It also provides a foundation for patient accountability within an accountable care partnership.
  • Learn to Earn. The self-management courses take people through short, engaging health information tracks, like getting started and prioritizing weight management and goal setting and managing diabetes through lifestyle changes. Learn To Earn measures and reports the patient’s progress and completion back to HIT systems so the care team can understand patient activity or easily connect the learning to an incentives program.

Define information therapy and its value in improving population health in an environment calling for better outcomes and lower cost.

Information therapy is the prescription of the right information to the right person at the right time. Often that means that the clinician who has just made a new diagnosis, ordered a new test, or prescribed a new medication can semi-automatically (i.e. one-click action) prescribe care self-management tools and document it in the EMR. Information therapy brings health education into the workflow of the clinician.

Do the Meaningful Use requirements place enough emphasis on patient-facing applications and readily available information? What would you have like to seen them include?

Meaningful Use requirements have made patient information prescriptions a “must have” rather than a “nice to have.” That is a major advance. Patients have already begun to enjoy the Meaningful Use-delivered benefits of patient-specific educational resources, discharge instructions, and the recognition of advance directives.

The two big items next on the Meaningful Use agenda for patients would be patient access to care plans and the requirement that a patient response to an information prescription be included in the clinical record.

Is the uptake of consumer-facing technologies such as social networking, search engines, and online health support encouraging for what you’re trying to accomplish?

It all helps with our basic mission. People need three kinds of input in their quest to manage health problems. Yes, they need plain language, easy-to-understand, evidence-based information on their condition and their treatment options. That is what we strive to provide.

Next, they need a strong relationship with a primary care provider who knows them well and can help to guide them through the options.

And finally, they need to hear from people “just like them” who have been through the same decisions and faced the same options.

Each piece helps, but no single source will lead to the best outcomes.

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