Validating PA Outcomes

July 2010:  Federal Government Provides Incentives for Tracking Body Mass Index  
When HCD develops a Resource Network for a community client, we frame each step of the solution process around the Seven Network Components. We recognize the need for quantification and validation of physical activity so that outcomes can be accurately assessed.  Programs can’t be evaluated without definitive outcome measures.

 The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released final guidance relating to electronic health record technology, which would encourage health care professionals to track and monitor Body Mass Index (BMI) of all patients over the age of two, along with other “vital” information.Hopefully this will be one more tool for health care providers to use as they begin to PRESCRIBE best physical activity programming for patients of various ages and conditions.

The program provides incentive payments to qualified institutions and individuals that meet certain criteria for “meaningful use” of electronic health records.  The move by the federal government could continue to establish BMI as a “vital sign.”

For healthy community development, this is another important step in getting the medical community to discuss healthy weight and behavioral modifications, such as physical activity participation, with patients. Research shows that patients, especially those who are obese or overweight want their medical providers to give them direct advice about appropriate physical activity programming. However, the same research shows that many doctors are not confident about traditional “fitness” programming enough to prescribe it.

The new incentive program from the federal government could help more doctors to “prescribe exercise as medicine” to their patients. The more that BMI becomes a part of the regular discussion between physicians and patients, the greater opportunity there is for physical activity participation to become part of a wellness conversation.

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