We at Blockit are excited to announce the launch of our “Blockit Community Connect” program that will help coordinate care for uninsured patients and underserved communities.
In the last few decades, healthcare professionals across the country have developed innovative ways of offering care to these patients, and we are excited to contribute to this movement.
One of the most impactful innovations has come from Community Health Centers (CHC), and Blockit Community Connect will be working closely with these centers to help simplify care coordination for patients and relieve administrative burdens for staff and providers.
“The demand for the great services these clinics provide often exceeds the physician resources they have available.”
The Benefit of CHCs
Community Health Centers are organized as non-profit, clinical care providers that operate under comprehensive federal standards and have served nearly 30 million patients in the US. The two types of clinics that meet CHC requirements are those that receive federal funding under the Public Health Service Act and those that meet all requirements applicable to federally funded health centers and are supported through state and local grants. Both types of CHCs are designated as "Federally Qualified Health Centers" (FQHCs), which grants them special payment rates under Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To receive grant funds, CHCs must meet the following qualifications:
Be located in a federally designated medically under-served area (MUA) or serve medically under-served populations (MUP)
Provide comprehensive primary care
Adjust charges for health services on a sliding fee schedule according to patient income
Be governed by a community board of which a majority of members are patients at the CHC.
These organizations do great work in communities of uninsured and underserved patients, often being the best, if not the only, source for high-quality care. Studies have also shown that these care centers and clinics “lessen the burden placed on emergency departments while providing care that is comparable to the national standard of care.”
Unfortunately, the demand for the great services these clinics provide often exceeds the physician resources they have available. This creates an opportunity for local independent and health system physicians to contribute their skills pro bono to patients in need. Organizations like the Christus Foundation or community service teams within large health systems help providers volunteer their time and connect them with places to serve. Other organizations such as Project Access exist to coordinate care for these patients so they can get the care they need.
Even with these great initiatives, however, logistics often interfere with success. Providers who are excited about volunteering can get lost in the process of coordinating schedules between their normal care environment and the health clinic, making it a struggle to get providers and patients to the right place at the right time.
With our roots established in social enterprise, Blockit has expanded our efforts to empower existing clients concerned with supporting their local community health centers to better serve their patients. Since our founding, we’ve viewed this as a huge need in our community and the communities of our partners, and we’re excited to start expanding our solution to CHCs through Blockit Community Connect.
How Blockit Community Connect Can Help
Blockit Community Connect will leverage Blockit’s award-winning digital care coordination platform to simplify and improve care delivery for underserved communities.
“As we partner with our provider ecosystem, Blockit Community Connect will enable simplified access for a large population of people who are often underserved. ”
Providers can volunteer any amount of time they wish through the platform – 1 appointment a month, 10 appointments, etc. These spots are only available to their charitable partners, and as the spots get used, those providers get removed from the partner’s list until the next month.
The CHCs’ staff can select a convenient time and schedule the appointment before the patient even leaves the clinic. With just a few clicks, that patient will have a booked appointment with a volunteering specialist provider at that provider’s office. No more phone calls, no more hassle, and physicians will not even need to leave their standard care environment to serve their community. Volunteer organizers will have real-time data on the pro bono work happening within their purview and be able to allocate the time previously spent coordinating with providers to more patient engagement.
This meets a great need for CHC’s because while many of these clinics offer outstanding in-house primary care options for their patients, specialized care requires considerable effort to contact various partner organizations who can then connect them with specialists.
Typically, these organizations provide the CHCs a list of physicians who have agreed to volunteer their time, and the clinic staffer begins making their way through the list, calling each doctor to see if they have room to offer pro bono care. Sometimes the demand for these services is so high that the clinic will offer a “Specialty Saturday” event where a physician dedicates an entire day to see patients at the CHC location. In either case, the specialist usually has to leave their office to serve elsewhere and the patient has to wait an extended amount of time before they even find out when or if they will have access to a specialist. This complex process often leads to long wait times between visits, and studies consistently show that “delays in seeking treatment may not only worsen a patient’s medical outcome but also increase the cost of medical care when finally seeking treatment.”
Also important to note is the fact that many of these clinics are non-profits and run with very limited staff and resources. The person making all those calls could very well be the same person raising funds, writing grant applications and leading community awareness meetings. Many of the clinic’s resources meant for charitable care, then, end up focused on logistics and infrastructure instead. Blockit Community Connect alleviates administrative burdens and allows CHC staff to spend more time caring for patients or doing everything else necessary to keep a charitable health center going.
Blockit’s proven ability to increase patient follow-through and minimize days between visits will help alleviate the problems associated with prolonged wait times and missed appointments, contributing to the overall health of the community. Digital care coordination will help keep repeat visits to the clinic at a minimum and reduce the strain of community emergency rooms. These simplified processes also help restore dignity to the patient by offering them more clarity and control over their care. Most importantly, Blockit Community Connect will help significantly improve the productivity and quality of the very important services these Community Health Centers deliver.
Blockit Community Connect will launch in San Antonio in April with one of our large health system partners and be available to the full Blockit network in June. Participating CHCs will have free access to the platform.
This is an important moment for the Blockit team, as it allows us to further accomplish our vision and better align with our customers’ missions. We’ve always strived to deliver a platform that makes healthcare more accessible and easier for everyone. As we partner with our provider ecosystem, Blockit Community Connect will enable simplified access for a large population of underserved patients.
Jake McCarley is the Co-Founder and CEO of Blockit. Well-versed in both automation and human process related healthcare issues, he is making bold moves to improve the health for both underserved communities and well-served patients nationally.