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Physicians Extend Their Reach Beyond the Office

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, October 25, 2012

Adults are too sedentary, as well. Getting physicians outside their offices to engage in the community encourages their patients' behaviors toward better health, whether it's children or adults, says William H. Dietz, MD, PhD, former director of the division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We have not done a good job of equipping anyone in the health care field—physicians or nurses—with a set of tools to be available outside of the doctor's office," Ditz said during the Rounds event.

Kaiser Permanente officials want to change that dynamic. Docs In the Park is one of the ways that Kaiser Permanente's model for "total health" is attempting to bend back healthcare costs and keep the population healthy.

An integrated system, Kaiser has the nation's largest nonprofit health plan, runs 37 hospitals and serves 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. KP includes 16,658 physicians.

"There's no way to tackle all these problems [diabetes, hypertension, obesity and inactivity] with one-to-one, doctors' face-to-face office visits," Loftus adds. "You reach people where they live and work and go to school. We ostensibly need to find partners that can help us access our population in a different way and a different place so we can get at behaviors most of us agree on."

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