Thursday, October 21, 2010

Self Service Health Care Unveiled in Georgia

/24-7/ -- Rural Georgians are less healthy than those living in urban areas. They are more likely to be under-insured or uninsured and they are more likely to suffer from heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer.

In a pioneering attempt to improve these statistics, free, user-friendly health information technology is being unveiled today in Blakely, Georgia (Early County).

The National Health Museum (NHM) of Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) and SoloHealth are unveiling Georgia's first Personal Health Advisor (PHA). The digital system is a new way for residents to learn about their health by the simple touch of a computer screen.

The PHA unit is a free-standing kiosk device that is being piloted and evaluated at the Primary Care of Southwest Georgia (PCSG) community clinic, 360 College Street in Blakely, Georgia. In addition to no-charge use of the kiosk, activities for Early County residents will include free health screenings and a health fair organized by DCH. After its initial stay in Early County, NHM plans to collaborate with DCH to make the PHA available for statewide use.

The PHA developed by SoloHealth and the NHM is the newest health information delivery platform. It allows users to assess their risk for overweight and obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. PHA users can also access interactive information about STDs and vaccines.

"We're pleased to be collaborating with DCH to develop innovative ways to improve the health of Georgians," said Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., the Museum's chairman. "We look forward to expanding this concept throughout the state of Georgia and beyond. In Blakely and Early County, where my brother Walter and I grew up, being healthy is not only beneficial for individuals and families, but also is fundamental for economic development and quality of life."

"The PHA is a great example of how the National Health Museum is using new technology to create educational tools that help people change their behavior and live healthier lifestyles," said David Roland, NHM's president and CEO. "This is just the beginning of a series of new health and life science activities that we will be announcing during the coming year."

The PHA is designed to be user-friendly for people of all ages and education levels, and for those with limited technology experience. The kiosk's touch screen features two "physician tour guides" to help patients answer questions about their health and health knowledge. Users enter non-identifiable demographic data and answer health status questions, and within minutes they are provided with a custom risk assessment printout, along with action-oriented tips for healthy living, and local and national health resources. To protect user privacy, no personal information is collected.

"We are proud to be partnering with the NHM and the Georgia DCH. We have a shared mission to increase access to health care while reducing health care costs. This new technology empowers consumers to learn about their own health and encourages them to take action," said Bart Foster, SoloHealth's Founder and CEO.Early County was identified as an ideal location to launch the program because of the community's significant health care needs coupled with a shortage of health resources. The PHA system will remain in Blakely for testing over the next few months.

The project was jointly funded by DCH and a matching grant from The Charles and Catherine B. Rice Foundation of Atlanta, in association with Early County 2055, Inc.

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