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Partnership to focus on healthy behavior

Profile image for By Karina Ramírez / Staff Writer
By Karina Ramírez / Staff Writer

DALLAS — Arlington-based Texas Health Resources and Healthways, a Tennessee health consulting company, announced a partnership Tuesday focused on ensuring that people stay healthy and helping them become active participants in their own well-being.

The 10-year strategic agreement will focus on keeping and maintaining patients’ healthy behaviors, reducing modifiable health-related risk factors and optimizing care for those with conditions or diseases. It is the first initiative of its kind in North Texas and one of the first such programs in the United States, officials with the companies said.

“Texas Health Resources believes that healthy people are happier, contribute more to their families, communities and jobs and have less financial impact on the health care system,” said Texas Health Resources CEO Douglas Hawthorne during a news conference at the Cardiovascular Fitness Center at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Texas Health also owns Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton.

The companies are expected to announce a more detailed plan in 90 days, and the plan could take a year to be fully implemented.

Hawthorne called the traditional sick-care model unsustainable and said a new one is needed.

“We’re developing a new model for health service in North Texas that we believe will help fulfill our mission to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve,” he said. Texas Health Resources serves 6.5 million people in the region, he said.

The companies will work through Texas Health facilities, physicians’ offices and community-based venues. Hawthorne said staff members, especially internal and primary care doctors, are excited about the new initiative.

Additionally, the new model will allow patients to become more proactive by having online access to their health care records.

“We will create an individual health record for each person so that they will know about their own personal well-being and their statistics about their own blood sugar, blood pressure — a whole variety of things — as well as their exercise program, diet program and things they may be working on, ” Hawthorne said.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton and other Texas Health facilities already use MyChart, a web-based portal to track patients’ medical records.

For 30 years, Healthways has been addressing behavior by studying individuals’ well-being, physical health and social and emotional factors to determine what works for each person.

“Successfully launching a proactive well-being improvement model begins at the point of highest trust and influence with individuals of any population of health experts,” said Ben Leedle, president and CEO of Healthways. “That means working with physicians and other providers to reinforce and strengthen the relationship they have with their patients.”

Jon Scholl, chief strategy officer for Texas Health, said the collaboration is centered on connecting people to their own health.

“Did you know that 50 percent of what influences health in any individual is the behavior they lead? It is not the bills they pay or the procedures that they experience in our facilities,” he said.

People need to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy behavior, he said

He said only 4 percent of health care costs are dedicated to analyzing people’s health behaviors.

To help people better coordinate their health, part of the new model includes technology-focused applications that will appear on an array of devices. Online programs such as Silver Sneakers — a wellness and exercise fitness program for older adults — and Smoking Cessation, a program that helps with nicotine addiction, are some of the programs that use science-based research for better health analysis.

“There is real science in how and why people connect to their health,” Scholl said.

The companies say they expect their partnership will mean a reduction in per capita health-related risks, fewer complications from chronic diseases, less need for health care services and fewer hospital readmissions.

“For our hospital and for the Greater Denton community, this new model of delivering health services will put us on a pathway to support enhanced well-being,” said Stan Morton, president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton. “This new model also means working with physicians and other providers to reinforce and strengthen the relationship they have with their patients. We look forward to helping individuals make good choices and implement a fit lifestyle.”

Since health-related expenses cost Dallas-Fort Worth communities $17 billion a year in lost productivity, officials hope people will become more responsible about their health care and work to form a plan with their doctor.

Texas Health and Healthways officials spent about a year analyzing the best ways to use their resources to develop the new wellness model.

“Together we are moving into a territory that has not been pursued before. So we are certain to discover what works, what doesn’t work, what works better than other things,” Leedle said. “So our job will be to continually refine what we are doing to produce the best solutions for people.”

KARINA RAMIREZ can be reached at 940-566-6878. Her email address is