In the News: Sept 29–Oct 6

Telehealth Start-up Addresses Health Care Access for Students

A recent Forbes article discusses Hazel Health, a virtual health start-up aimed to provide students with physician consults from their school nurse’s office or their homes. As school districts open for in-person classes or shift to virtual learning, student health has been a growing concern amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. With $33.5 million in funding, Hazel plans to continue expanding its services within school districts representing 1.5 million students.

With Hazel’s model, most common health care issues, like pink eye, are addressed immediately, and the child can continue learning. If there is a more acute issue, parents/guardians are contacted to explain the diagnosis, prescriptions and recommendations for further care. This information is also shared with family physicians to ensure continuity of care.

Through both school-based programs and those run by pediatric hospitals, virtual health has enabled convenient care for pediatric patients, removing geographic and time barriers that may have otherwise prevented children from receiving appropriate care. To learn more about the virtual health offerings children’s hospitals and schools are providing for both low-acuity urgent care and specialty care, such as behavioral health, please read the Sg2 Expert Insight Leverage Virtual Health to Offer Convenient Pediatric Care in Multiple Settings.

RVs Deliver Addiction Treatment in Hard-to-Reach Communities

According to a KHN article, a program in Colorado has repurposed 6 RVs to use as mobile health clinics to increase addiction treatment access in hard-to-reach communities. Each RV is equipped with a bathroom, an exam room, supplies and 3 staff members (ie, nurse, counselor and peer specialist) trained to operate the vehicle. During appointments, patients take a urine test that gives instant feedback on the type of drugs in their systems and subsequently determines the kind of treatment needed. The types of medications prescribed are Suboxone or Vivitrol for opioid use disorder and Narcan for opioid overdose. Patients can also drop off used needles for disposal.

Mobile health clinics have existed for years and have been used as a solution to bring health care to underserved communities. The idea for a Colorado Health on Wheels RV stemmed from a similar program in upstate New York, and analysis of data on opioids and available care helped establish which areas in Colorado had the highest need for addiction treatment.

Mobile health clinics can be implemented as part of a community health improvement strategy and are a way for health systems to form a physical and portable extension of themselves to better serve the needs of their patient population. To learn about funding community health initiatives, please view (or watch the session recording of) the following Sg2 webinar Community Health Improvement: Financial Sustainability of Social Determinants of Health Initiatives.

New Initiative Receives Aid to Help Utah’s Vulnerable Communities

In a recent article, University of Utah Health announced that its SCALE-UP Utah initiative has been awarded $5 million from the National Institutes of Health to help reduce health disparities in Utah.

Similar to many other states nationwide, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, African-Americans, Native Americans and those in low-income neighborhoods have been hit especially hard in Utah, with higher cases of and death rates from COVID-19. The SCALE-UP initiative aims to “increase the acceptance, reach, uptake, and long-term sustainability of COVID-19 screening and testing,” and leans on interventions such as text messaging between providers and high-risk patients, information technology tools to connect patients to COVID-19 screening and testing, and patient navigators to address logistics and barriers to COVID-19 testing.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the recession and racial inequity awakening have drawn more attention to what we already know in health care: factors such as race, socioeconomic status, environmental elements and social structures influence health. Combined, these trends are a powerful force to promote change in society, as well as at the organizational level. Read the Sg2 Expert Insight Inequity, Race, Social Determinants and Health Care: COVID-19 Provides a Call to Action to learn what could be—and should be—done by health systems to address the interrelationship of disease and social determinants.

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