Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Combining the High Tech with the Soft Touch

Popul Health Manag. 2016 Jun 6. [Pubmed Abstract]

Combining the High Tech with the Soft Touch: Population Health Management Using eHealth and Peer Support
Kowitt SD, Tang PY, Peeples M, Duni J, Peskin S, Fisher EB

Integration of diverse approaches may offer paths to meeting population health challenges such as how to provide ongoing diabetes self management support. With the engagement of peer support and the reach of eHealth (and the effectiveness and feasibility of both approaches), we therefore discuss how the “high-tech” of eHealth could be integrated with the “soft-touch” of peer support to manage the health of populations. Our model integrates eHealth with lay health coaching for people living with Type 2 diabetes receiving care from a primary care clinic. Formative research with patients, providers, and staff raised several potential challenges for the program, including how to best engage patients, training and qualifications of the health coaches, and the extent to which intervention components should be tailored to patient need and interest. These have led to revisions of the protocols for training the coaches and the actual intervention. Formative research also illustrated the complementarity of peer support and eHealth approaches for diabetes self management and the ways in which both approaches could result in a scalable model to address the major population health challenge of providing chronic disease management support for populations of those with the disease.

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