It’s common for providers to recommend exercise to their patients, but at organizations like Kaiser Permanente and Greenville Health System, doctors are actually prescribing it. The prescriptions are part of a program that Kaiser, Greenville, and other organizations have implemented to treat physical activity as a vital sign (PAVS) to put discussions about increasing exercise and physical fitness at the forefront of care.
At organizations with PAVS programs, doctors ask patients questions to determine their activity levels and record the answers in Epic. This assessment opens up intentional discussions about how patients can improve their health through exercise and adds fitness information to the patients’ records in Epic, helping clinicians assess physical activity levels over time.
A Kaiser study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that, over a 16-month period, sedentary patients began to exercise more, obese patients lost more weight, and diabetic patients were more successful in lowering their A1C levels compared to patients at similar organizations without a PAVS program.