Building a Healthy Community with Technology and Community Members

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By Steven Randazzo | On Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:44am

The next installment of’s blog post series highlighting applications that have been developed leveraging U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data features God's Battalion of Prayer Chuch.

Below is a guest post by Thomas Cannell, Director of Community Technology at Primary Care Information Project and Nichelle Davis, Leader of the Health Ministry.

God’s Battalion of Prayer is a church in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, founded in 1959. The mission of God’s Battalion is “to build a healthy community.” Among the ministries of the church is an active and long-standing Health Ministry, led by Nichelle Davis, which focuses on the total health of congregants, and has offers blood pressure monitoring and health education after services for the last five years. In March of 2012, the God’s Battalion of Prayer Health Ministry, along with four other church health ministries in Brooklyn, partnered with the New York City Department of Health’s Primary Care Information Project (PCIP) to adopt the Community Health Dashboard, a secure web-based information system, created by the Dossia Service Corporation.  Dossia is a health management system that allows a user to enter and securely track information about their health, alongside open health data sets, such as Medline Plus, and wellness games. PCIP selected Dossia to develop the Community Health Dashboard after they were selected, through a competitive process, as the vendor most fit to empower health ministries to:

  1.  Keep track and stay in touch with members whose blood pressure readings
  2.  Track trends in the health of individuals and the community
  3. Share blood pressure readings taken in the community settings with primary care physicians.

Now, when congregants visit the Health Ministry office to have their blood pressure taken after services, Mrs. Davis and her team offers them the chance to sign up for a Personal Health Record, which captures their blood pressure readings and shares them with the Health Ministry’s Dashboard. Mrs. Davis and her fellow Health Ministry members can pull up the Community Health Dashboard and look to see which church members had high blood pressure at the last reading, which makes it easier to follow up and encourage them to stick to their goals for healthy living. “You see everything as opposed to thumbing through paper work……. everything is there in your face,” says Barbara Bowen, a member of the Health Ministry.

In one case, by regularly checking in with one church member with high blood pressure, Mrs. Davis was able to support her to take her medication more regularly. The next time she came back to have her blood pressure taken, it was back in the normal range, and the chart in the Personal Health Record (PHR) displayed the difference. As of September, 34 church members have signed up.  Across the five churches participating in this pilot, 135 congregants have signed up for a PHR and recorded 185 blood pressure readings.

Mrs. Davis and the Health Ministry also use the Dashboard to compare rates of high blood pressure at the church with those in the neighborhood of Flatbush, as estimated from the Health Department’s annual Community Health Survey. As the Health Ministry tries out new programs and offerings, Mrs. Davis will be able to observe the impact on blood pressure control at her church, and how it compares with her neighborhood, the borough of Brooklyn and New York City.

Through the work of community members, the leveraging of open data, and a health care management tool, a healthy community is being built.

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