Friday, March 7, 2014

Community Solutions: Just What the Doctor Ordered!

Last year, 11,000 hospital and clinic patients received prescriptions for food and heat, along with scripts for their medicines. These patients were treated at health facilities that partner with Health Leads, a nonprofit organization that enables healthcare providers to prescribe basic resources along with medicine or referrals to specialists.  

How does it work? As part of the health screening process, the healthcare teams also screen for basic needs such as food, housing and heat.  If the patient’s basic needs are not being met, they are given a prescription and sent to a Health Leads Advocate who fills the prescription by connecting the patient to the basic resources they need to get and stay healthy. The Advocates are college students who are recruited, trained and placed by Health Leads.  They have access to resources, case management and reporting tools, some of which are integrated with the hospital information systems. 

We know that it takes more to live a long and healthy life than just being blessed with healthy genetics.  We need access to basic resources: food, basic education, safe housing, utilities and comprehensive medical care. Many Americans are forced to choose which resources to live without, leading to even worse health problems that impact all aspects of their lives. For many, an illness leads to a cascading series of events that can include job loss, financial problems, poor childcare, family dysfunction and more serious illnesses.

By ensuring that patients have access to these basic needs, Health Leads provides much better overall patient outcomes, saving the medical system time and resources while providing quality health care. Connecting the work of its Advocates to existing hospital information systems ensures that everyone’s resources are deployed efficiently, keeping all partners on the same page. This meshes with our philosophy of using integrated systems to help nonprofits manage clients, coordinate assets and resources, communicate well with partners and build reports. Integration can lead to this success and, in the case of Health Leads, to healthier patients. I look forward to sharing more examples of innovative programs that tap into I&R services. 

Lori Warrens
Senior Director of Community Solutions