July 09, 2019
My nursing journey began in an ICU step-down unit providing care to patients on ventilators with multiple IVs and tubes. I left the ICU to become a Health Coach at Independence Blue Cross and learned case management. This was a big change for me — I went from taking care of a new patient every few days to following the same patients for months or even years on their care journeys.
My time in case management taught me that people are so much more than their diagnosis. It also made me aware of the hardships that behavioral health and social circumstances put on a person and their family. Individuals often don’t prioritize their health because they have other pressing needs. It’s hard to worry about diet and exercise when you’re a caregiver for an aging parent, struggling to pay the bills, or are dealing with depression.
This realization inspired my interest in population health and what we can do to make communities healthier. It has also become the motivation for my work going forward: I want to help people live healthier lives on their own terms.
I went back to school for Nursing Informatics (I’ll be graduating this August!) and landed an awesome position in Independence’s Informatics department. In this role, I meet with employers who cover their employees through Independence to talk about their claims experiences and opportunities for supporting population health through their benefit design and products that we offer. Through data collection and analytics that our Informatics team performs, I am able to recommend benefits and offerings, such as weight loss programs or telemedicine, which address and best suit the health and wellness needs of their unique employees. By personalizing their health care experience, we hope to inspire our members to take a more active role in their health.
Working with group customers and employers is just one way of helping to make communities healthier. As part of the Informatics department, I see how data and technology are aiding patient care to make managing and improving your health easy and convenient. It’s very exciting!
A patient with diabetes can use a smart glucometer to track glucose trends on their smart phone and send that data to their doctor automatically. Many doctors offer secure text messaging services with their patients. Smart monitors in homes are helping seniors age at home safely by tracking their movements and sending out alerts when activity levels change. Mental health care is moving onto phones, too. You can work with a therapist via text or skype calls or take self-led cognitive behavioral therapy to address stress or substance abuse. Someone out there is working on new technology for just about every health care need!
The possibilities are endless, and these products are putting the power directly into the hands of the health care consumer. When I was a Health Coach one of my favorite tag lines to tell my members when we’d have a great call was, “Good health is contagious!” If you can figure out what’s holding you back today and work to address that barrier then it will be that much easier to achieve your current goals and set new goals. I see technology as a way to help individuals and whole communities track, monitor, and move forward to a healthier life.
This article was originally published on IBX Insights.
Katharine Hill Steiner is a Customer Information Consultant in the Informatics department at IBX. She completed her BSN at Gwynedd Mercy University, and is currently enrolled in a Master’s degree program at Thomas Jefferson University for Nursing Informatics. Katharine lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter.