The COVID-19 pandemic has forced health systems to rethink how to effectively manage preventive care and chronic diseases when regular in-person visits are challenging, and patients are apprehensive of conducting telehealth visits. With many adults across the county delaying preventive care, and with six in 10 having at least one chronic condition (heart disease, cancer, diabetes), regular health management is a matter of life and death, with added COVID-19 risks.
The pandemic has shown how community health centers have stepped up to transform local healthcare and are moving toward a new, blended care delivery model that includes at home self-care integrated with telehealth visits. These steps have the potential to significantly improve the way preventive care and chronic diseases are managed during and beyond this pandemic.
The National Association of Community Health Centers developed the Leading Change: Transforming At-Home Care, a pilot project to address the problem that community health centers face in providing services for a large population of high-risk patients who are more likely to suffer from a disproportionate array of chronic conditions.
The Wahiawā Center for Community Health (Wahiawā Health) is one of 20 health centers in 16 states around the country, and the only center in Hawai‘i, selected to participate in the cutting edge pilot project that provides high-risk patients with self-care tools and remote patient monitoring to prevent unnecessary health problems. High-risk patients are given a patient care kit that includes a home kit for colorectal cancer screening, a home A1C monitor for diabetes control, a blood pressure monitor for blood pressure control, a thermometer for temperature monitoring, and a scale for weight management. Patients also receive educational materials and in between the patients’ primary care visits, regular, virtual diabetes care, education and self-management visits from the clinic’s certified diabetes care and education specialist, and screening for social factors that affect health status by the clinic’s medical social worker.
Wahiawā Health is a federally qualified health center serving Wahiawā, Mililani, Waialua, Schofield, Kunia and Central O‘ahu as a single point of access to comprehensive, culturally competent primary healthcare.