Diverse young adults

Bringing Patients’ Voices to American Healthcare

Patient experience is an aspect of health and health care that has received increasing attention in the U.S.  For patients and caregivers facing a new diagnosis, or needing to make a health-related decision, other people’s experiences of the same diagnosis, treatments, and impact on the life course have always been valued. With the advent of web-based health information, the influence of patient experience has grown even more rapidly.

Recognizing this gap, researchers at four universities—including UW-Madison—and the Veterans Administration formed a collaboration called the Health Experiences Research Network (HERN) in order to bring an internationally-vetted method of rigorously collecting diverse health experiences to the U.S.

In 2016, they launched www.HealthExperiencesUSA.org with an inaugural module on diverse young adults’ experiences with depression, a disease that can have significant consequences for future social, occupational, and health outcomes.

Checking blood pressure

BP Connect: Improving blood pressure follow-up

High blood pressures are the most prevalent and reversible cardiovascular disease risk factors among adults with chronic conditions, who are often vulnerable to gaps between specialty and primary care. Increasing preventive services to address hypertension could prevent more early deaths than any other preventive service. To address these issues, the BP Connect staff protocol was created to connect patients with high blood pressure in a specialty visit back to primary care for timely follow-up.

Young adult blood pressure

Helping Young Adults Manage High Blood Pressure

Approximately 1 in 15 young adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but young adults have the lowest rates of blood pressure control (achieving a blood pressure <140/90 mmHg) compared to other adult age groups, and many young adults have reported having few resources to address their needs for heart health education.

To address these problems, the MyHEART program was developed with young adults and healthcare team members to address a broad range of topics. MyHEART has multiple components, including young adult education and research programs across multiple healthcare systems. 

Eye screening

Preventing Blindness

Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults in Wisconsin, where there are currently over 135,000 adults with diabetes. Early screening and treatment can prevent 90% of blindness, but only half of adults with diabetes get their recommended yearly eye screening.

In response, Dr. Yao Liu created the UW Teleophthalmology Program that enables patients in rural locations to get screened by their primary care providers during regular clinic visits without having to make a second trip or appointment. The images are then sent to UW-Madison, where eye specialists read the images and send reports back to primary care for local follow-up as needed. 

Woman pointing to board with ideas for healthy living

Healthy Living with Diabetes

Management of diabetes lies almost entirely in the hands of those who live with the condition. The Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging and the Health Innovation Program are providing individuals with diabetes the resources they need for effective self-management of their disease.

Pills flowing out of bottle

Reducing Opioid Prescribing

Opioid misuse and abuse has become a significant public health problem in virtually all areas of the United States, including Wisconsin, where 827 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016-- up 35 percent from the previous year. Clinical guidelines for safer use of opioids were initially proposed in 2009, and have since evolved into the CDC’s widely publicized 2016 guidelines for opioid prescribing. The uptake of these guidelines has been variable across the U.S. healthcare system.

To assist in the uptake of clinical guidelines, University of Wisconsin researchers implemented a program to coach primary care doctors to follow opioid prescribing guidelines. This work was done through the use of a novel implementation strategy, called systems consultation, which was designed to promote clinical guideline implementation for opioid prescribing in primary care.