America’s Health Ranking Annual Report 2017 ranked West Virginia (WV) 46th overall among the 50 states in terms of health. Women in WV are burdened by chronic disease, poverty, lack of education, tobacco use, lack of access to healthcare, and isolation. Many of these chronic diseases are preventable through screening, lifestyle change, and behavior modifications. The WV WISEWOMAN program has been working to address these issues and their impact on the health of WV’s most vulnerable population of women for the past 16 years. Every program participant receives screenings, including lab work, a minimum of one evidence-based lifestyle program, referrals to free or low-cost community resources, and approved healthy behavior support systems (HBSS) that provide support to live a healthier lifestyle. Modifiable risk factors, such as obesity, smoking, and poor diet are also addressed.
Over the course of the five-year funding cycle, WV WISEWOMAN plans to move in a more data-driven, evidence-based manner to help participants. Assisting healthcare providers in their ability to provide a better quality healthcare experience through training and the implementation of Team-Based Care with peer mentors will help improve health outcomes of not just WV WISEWOMAN participants, but all people who receive care at these clinics. The program will launch a collaborative initiative that utilizes clinic electronic medical records (EMR) to modify reporting systems that allow for improved data collection and reporting that will increase cardiovascular screening rates. Plans are underway to procure a web-based data system, which will improve data reporting, data sharing, and enhance capabilities. Evaluation outcomes will drive program planning. West Virginia WISEWOMAN will be working with partners to expand an exciting new web-based data system called WV Connects that is a bi-directional community resource database/referral system that allows providers to make referrals, participants to access community resources and provide feedback, strengthen community clinical linkages, and promotes health systems change.
Expanding the reach of WISEWOMAN services to women living in rural or medically underserved areas has been a long-term objective of the program. By providing services outside of the medical home via telemedicine, a local pharmacist, or a mobile dental clinic, the program is providing these women and the medical community the opportunity to change. Through the continued efforts of fully integrating WV WISEWOMAN and the WV Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (WVBCCSP), the support of the Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health, long-standing collaborations with internal and external partners, the recruitment and expansion of the statewide provider network, improved data reporting, evaluation, and an experienced staff, together we will improve blood pressure control, lower cardiovascular disease risk factors, see communities embracing lifestyle changes, and in the end see healthier communities for a healthier West Virginia.