Group Health's Department of Preventive Care (DPC) is involved in research on weight management, parenting, childhood learning, phone-based support for the Free & Clear Quit for Life® smoking cessation program, and screening and care of cervical and colorectal cancer. DPC's current studies include the following:


Health Profile and Momentum

DPC is playing a central role in the ongoing design and architecture of Momentum, Group Health's suite of solutions for employers who want to conduct population health management activities with their employees.

The Health Profile is the first health risk appraisal to send discrete data elements directly to the electronic medical record (EMR), while being able to trigger EMR-based alerts to clinical staff within minutes of completion of an online individual health risk assessment. It also imports data from the EMR into the questionnaire, making it particularly convenient for members to complete numerical data, such as lab values and blood pressure.

Through a concerted effort of promotion at the clinic level, the Health Profile completion rate among all adult members at Group Health is approximately 8 percent since October 2007, or approximately 32,000 completed questionnaires. Since about 46 percent of the Group Health population has verified access to My Group Health, the rate of Health Profile completions among ID-verified members is approximately 17 percent. The highest penetration of the Health Profile of any specific clinic population is 28 percent.

Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) will also play an important role in assessing the effectiveness of the overall Momentum program, including linking health-coaching outreach to individuals with significant lifestyle risk factors reported on the Health Profile. Several projects are being planned to build on the use of these data.


Oral health promotion in well-child care

With funding from the Washington Dental Service Foundation, DPC is leading a pilot demonstration project to improve oral health care of young infants and toddlers by incorporating oral health promotion and fluoride varnish application as part of well-child care to children. Group Health is the first large health care delivery system in Washington state to transform its well-child visit to include these key components. 

Working with MacColl Center consultants, the intervention has now been spread to all six identified pilot sites. Preliminary data indicate that the acceptance of the intervention is very high. An evaluation of the initiative has been funded by the Group Health Foundation. Efforts will also be underway to identify sources of funding to understand the long-term impact of this initiative on future dental claims, comparing the six intervention clinic populations to all others.


Evaluation of the Medical Home initiative

Rob Reid, MD, PhD is principal investigator of a quasi-experimental evaluation of the impact of the Group Health Medical Home project at Factoria Medical Center. Based on the Medical Home Model, a concept promulgated by the American College of Physicians, Factoria implemented a package of interventions to improve the delivery of high-quality patient-centered care to its population. Through improved local control and population management, it is hoped that reducing panel size and engaging physicians in more outreach and opportunistic care will reduce the rate of unnecessary visits to the Emergency Department or to specialists, as well as improve quality scores related to prevention and disease management.


Vaccine Safety Datalink

More widespread use of vaccines has drawn attention to the importance of accurate assessment of vaccine safety. In 1990, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project, which now connects information in large databases maintained by eight American health plans, including Group Health. Combining data on immunizations and diseases for millions of people lets researchers conduct scientifically rigorous studies of vaccine safety and effectiveness. Several ongoing studies are funded under a 10-year CDC umbrella grant of about $1 million a year for the VSD Project.