People love themes. From your high school graduation to a friend’s holiday party, themes are a way to grab attention and create fresh, new energy around an event or period of time. Your focus might not be fun and festivities, but FQHCs can apply these principles in the fight for healthier individuals and communities.
One of the most important resources we have in raising awareness around diseases and conditions is people. Awareness months, like Stress Awareness Month, and Minority Mental Health Month, are an opportunity to connect people and build momentum around an issue. Preventive calendars are an organized and highly recognizable approach that leverages national inertia and allows you to realize the long-proven benefits of awareness months for your patients, and even for your clinicians and staff.
Patients and Preventive Calendars
Underserved populations face increased complications and vulnerability in navigating chronic illness and other health challenges. Because of this relationship, preventive calendars represent a unique method to add tangible benefits to the healthcare journey of underserved patients.
1) Building Critical Connection
Issues like mental health and cancer prevention can take a back seat to day-to-day life challenges for populations who are navigating pressing issues like food insecurity, homelessness, or daily financial challenges. Preventive calendars can help these populations connect their lives to the awareness, prevention, and action they can take to improve their health.
2) Establishing an Anchor Point
Many conditions, like diabetes, cancer, and obesity can feel all-consuming for your patients.
The focused months that preventive calendars provide give your patients a short, dedicated time to rethink approaches, talk to providers, and take advantage of any special programs and events you’re offering that can support their disease prevention and management throughout the year.
3) Encouraging a Positive Outlook
FQHCs understand the serious nature of the diseases and health conditions that your patients face — but you also know that it’s possible to help them build a more positive attitude and feel less alone. This is especially true when patients connect with clinicians, community health center support staff, and other people navigating similar challenges.
For example, social support is understood as a key element in a diabetes prevention strategy, so events like fundraisers, educational outreach, and scheduled text communications can help “connect the dots” that your patients might be unintentionally overlooking in their lives.
Preventive calendars are a powerful tool in organizing not only your patients but their friends and family in building positive energy in managing their health.
To give you a closer look at what one arm of your preventive calendar strategy can look like, here are a few, example text messages that we encourage our FQHC partners to use to engage with patients at scale and align with the holistic care they offer.
Benefits of Preventive Calendars within Your FQHC
The benefits of a preventive calendar aren’t limited to your patients and can go a long way in supporting and encouraging your internal teams.
4) Building Better Measures
HEDIS measures directly impact the health of your FQHC, and with more than 90 to navigate, tracking and improving them can be a challenge. That said, many of the measures can be aligned with your preventive calendar, creating a time to build an internal focus that coordinates with patient-facing screening and awareness initiatives. Some of the measures you can consider include:
- Cervical Cancer (January)
- High blood pressure and heart health (February)
- Colorectal Cancer (March)
- Immunization (August)
- Breast cancer (October)
- Diabetes (November)
5) Creating Unity
You’ll likely also find that using a preventive calendar to guide your internal communication and goals helps foster a sense of unity among your staff and clinicians.
Your clinicians especially are at increased risk of burnout, with decreased motivation being a core component of the condition. You may find that a coordinated approach to the conditions they support their patients in navigating has the added bonus of helping them find new motivation in their work each month.
To help get you started on your own efforts, we’d like to share a copy of the Care Message Preventive Calendar — and if you’d like to learn more about some of the ways other FQHCs have leveraged texting and the CareMessage content library to support their preventive calendar efforts, fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch.