As Director for AHRQ, Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D, told the attendees at the mHealth Summit about several programs making inroads to provide more effective healthcare. The agency is invested to making it possible for health and mobile technologies to reach all populations within hospitals, organizations, and universities to provide the right information at the right time.
Workshops have been held to discuss the challenges and what it takes to develop innovative ideas. For example, AHRQ and the National Science Foundation held a workshop to address the healthcare delivery system. Experts were asked to explore the critical areas of research involving not just healthcare issues but also to look at how both industrial systems engineering and healthcare research can play a supportive role in delivering health technology. A report was published and is available at www.ahrq.gov.
Dr. Clancy addressed the healthcare needs for ethnic populations and pointed out several successful programs operating in Colorado that are highly effective. She described how the “Salud Mobile Outreach Program” has reduced health disparities among Mexican immigrants, many of whom are poor, uninsured, and monolingual with limited education.
Mexican Americans are two times more likely to have diabetes and 50 percent more likely to die of the disease as compared to non-Hispanic whites. The popular program helps the Mexican immigrant population to cope with health problems.
To combat the health issues in the rural population, the Salud program sends out a mobile medical unit staffed by bilingual and bicultural medical personnel, outreach workers, and volunteers mostly so far in northern Colorado. The unit is equipped with three networked computers complete with wireless internet access plus other medical testing equipment.
Also in Colorado, Denver Health, a large integrated urban academic safety net institution has successfully integrated IT across their system. Approximately 70 percent of their patients are part of the ethnic minority population. The hospital has been specifically testing using text messaging with the elderly Hispanic population for the past two years to try to help the elderly population with chronic illnesses. This elderly population is amazingly enthusiastic about the program and the messaging program has an enormous impact on treating patients.
For the latest information on AHRQ innovations, go to www.innovations.ahrq.gov.