United Health Centers partner with WellFX

Published in the Parlier Post on 2/13/13 by Valerie Shelton

Rather than call a doctor when a cold lingers over a week or when a mole looks as if it’s changed shape, the common first response for many people in this digital age is to go online and Google their symptoms.  Sometimes, this practice can lead people to valuable information, but often they get a dose of TMI (Too Much Information) that scares them stiff into thinking they’re developing a life-threatening disease. As a way to combat some of the misinformation circulating out in cyberspace, health professionals are now developing their own social media sites where they can respond to and help patients directly.  One such website is Well-FX.com.

Last week, United Health Centers (UHC) of the San Joaquin Valley, which serves patients in eight Valley communities including Parlier and Orange Cove, decided to partner with WellFX to provide its patients and staff a way to communicate outside the four walls of a doctor’s office.  UHC Chief Executive Officer Colleen Curtis said the site will help patients track their health progress, communicate with qualified health professionals and give them access to useful resources that will motivate them to stay healthy and on track with their health regimes.

“Whether they have a specific diagnosis and want to track their health progress or they want to help with nutrition and exercise, I believe this will assist patients in meetings their health goals,” Curtis said. The program, she said, will also assist doctors by providing an efficient way for them to view each patient’s progress.

“Staff can just go online and track patient progress and they can make calls to patients having a screen shot of what that patient’s diagnosis, medications and progress is right in front of them,” Curtis said. “There is a module each patient uses to track their progress.  It is private and can only be viewed by the patient and the doctors or people they authorize to view it.”

UHC, Curtis said, will start by offering WellFX to 5,000 of its 50,000 patients.  This first group, she said, who already have a diagnosis and a need to monitor their own health in order to stay well.  After the initial 5,000, she said they will slowly begin adding more and more patients until everyone who is interested is on board.

“Physicians will be identifying the 5,000 based on each patient’s specific diagnosis,” Curtis said. “We’ll be looking at patients with diabetes, hypertension and asthma mainly because we feel patients with those conditions can benefit most from the tracking program.  Diabetes is something that patients really have to track themselves on a daily basis. They constantly test their blood sugar levels and watch their nutrition.  It’s a lot of self-management they need to do and this program gives them a place to record their daily levels and then they can visually see their progress on the screen.”

Although the program is being offered to those with known diseases first, Curtis said the program will be good for those wanting to stay healthy too.  Specifically, WellFX has a program called WellFX Resolution, which is a video-based exercise program and innovative dietary plan, that Curtis said would be beneficial to all patients trying to get health or stay healthy.  UHC employees would also be able to use the program to monitor their own health.

“We see this as the next step in providing the highest level of care to our patients and employees,” Curtis said. “Over the past decade, research has shown that patient engagement models like WellFX can influence patient behaviors and lead to significant improvements in their overall health and wellness.”

Published in the Parlier Post on 2/13/13 by Valerie Shelton