Collaboration & Partnerships to Address Access in Healthcare

By Laura Fritsche- 8/6/19

Chicago hosts an abundance of healthcare organizations from small health-tech startups to large health system conglomerates and insurance companies. These organizations all provide different products and services, yet they’re all working towards improving the health of Chicagoans and Illinoisans alike (& nationally, depending on the org). Last week’s event at MATTER, “All In™: Emerging Solutions in Access to Care,” reflected on the importance of collaboration and partnership across these various healthcare players.

Present at the discussion was Ruth Tow who serves as the Director of Clinic Operations for CommunityHealth, a free clinic, serving over 7,000 uninsured. CommunityHealth has partnered with NowPow, an EHR-compatible platform that provides resource awareness to patients and providers, covering all aspects of care from food and nutrition to financial assistance and substance use support (founded by UCM’s Dr. Stacy Lindau!). Relationships like these allow individuals with barriers to access a chance to take charge of their health within the context of their own community.

Also present was Katie Thiede, CEO of Bright Pink, an organization that provides resources and free cancer risk assessments to women, promoting proactive management of breast and ovarian cancer. Bright Pink is currently the only company offering these assessments free of charge. Bright Pink won the Blue Cross Blue Shield Illinois (BCBSIL) and MATTER Health Equity Innovation Challenge allowing them to pilot their digital risk assessment with BCBSIL. Derek Robinson, MD, Chief Medical Officer for BCBSIL, described this relationship as extremely beneficial in that it helps promote long-term and positive impact in the health of BCBSIL’s patients.

In discussing the difference between health disparity and health equity, Katie explained that to encourage health equity we must have resources available for all. These partnerships such as CommunityHealth & NowPow and Bright Pink & BCBSIL allow new, effective and innovative solutions to increase both reach and impact. Looking towards the future, these organizations understand the importance of initiating these conversations and piggybacking off one another’s strengths if we, as promoters of health, are going to address access and health equity.