A little more than three years ago, Professor Stanley HUI, Director of the EIM Hong Kong (EIM-HK) National Center, approached the Hong Kong Jockey Club with the idea of integrating physical activity into the Hong Kong public health system and connecting patients to trained exercise professionals in community settings. After nearly two years of refining the details of the project, a five-year grant was awarded to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, on behalf of EIM Hong Kong, in late fall of 2018. The goal of the project is to adapt the EIM Solution to engage patients with hypertension and diabetes in community-based physical activity programs.
To kick off year one of the project, a special training conference, titled “From Pills to Movement – Exercise is Medicine”, was hosted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in partnership with the Hong Kong Physical Fitness Association, the host institution for EIM-HK. Guest lecturers included instructors from the across Hong Kong, as well as representatives from Singapore (Dr. Fadzil Hamzah) and the United States (Dr. Rachele Pojednic). From June 7-17, 2019, more than 150 exercise professionals from across Hong Kong received nearly 40 hours of training on health behavior change, developing exercise prescriptions for individuals with chronic disease, and preparticipation safety screening. On June 15th and 16th, the exercise professionals were joined by 50 health care providers for a series of joint sessions designed to create greater communication and understanding between the two fields, before breaking out in discipline-specific sessions.
This initial training will be followed by a three-month pilot project in which the EIM Solution will be tested at one public health clinic. Patients with diabetes and hypertension will be identified by the nursing staff at the clinic and referred to trained EIM exercise professionals in the local community. The exercise professionals will lead 12-week, group-based exercise classes specifically designed for individuals with diabetes and hypertension. Participants enrolled in the program are to receive an activity tracker and access to a database of online exercise videos developed as a part of the project.
Information gathered from the pilot trial will be used to refine the integration of the EIM Solution into the public health clinics and further customize the exercise programs based on the needs and preferences of the referred patients. The goal of the project is to roll the EIM Solution out to five clinics in year two, followed by expansion to all nine public health clinics in the east region of the New Territories in years three through five. The overall goal is to identify, refer and engage a minimum of 6000 individuals with diabetes and hypertension in EIM group-based, physical activity sessions. With the assistance of the School of Public Health at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, evaluation efforts will focus on both implementation (i.e., reach of the program to all patients in the public health clinics, levels of adoption by each clinic and the providers, implementation of the EIM Solution as intended) and effectiveness (i.e., increasing physical activity levels, decrease in blood pressure and fasting blood glucose concentrations, decrease healthcare utilization) outcomes.
This is truly a unique and special opportunity for the entire EIM Global Health Network to observe and learn from the widespread implementation of EIM in multiple health settings. We wish the best of luck to the EIM Hong Kong team and offer the full support of the EIM Global Health Network to assist in their efforts.