Health Connect Corp received the December Game Changer Grant from Forward Community Investments. Every month Forward Community Investments awards the Game Changer grant to a nonprofit organization or group of people in the community that is doing outstanding or noteworthy work toward racial equity.
Health Connect is a non-profit organization seeking to help match people in the community with the right healthcare providers. HealthConnect is online and gives people the chance to search for healthcare providers close to them who actually have openings or resources for new patients. The web search tool lets people see dots on a map that represent nearby providers for things like Primary Care, mental health, dentistry, emergency housing, food pantries and childcare.
On the flip side the tool also helps the providers of those services create an online profile saying what they offer, what their availability is, what their costs are as well as see the number of people who need them.
With health care premiums skyrocketing, a national government that appears to be moving away from affordable health care and wide pockets of poverty around Dane County and Southern Wisconsin — particularly in communities of color — having a more streamlined one-stop shop for healthcare could be vital for thousands of people.
“We understand and know people of color are disproportionately impacted by poverty and the effect of that poverty is that it creates barriers to accessing health and social services,” said CEO Kevin Dwyer. “We want to make this directly impactful on people in those communities and reduce those barriers.”
Dwyer said that Health Connect will use an app or website where private practices or providers can use their profile page to target their patient population and have constant, updated status on their ability to provide real time service for those people.
“Social workers, med support staff or people in the community could use this website and identify the resources that are available nearby and see if they can actually help them,” he said. “It helps the healthcare professionals because they tend to get familiar with only a small handful of providers or organizations regardless of their ability to actually help those clients. So if we can help change that we can optimize the care people in the community can have.”
At the moment HealthConnect has a network of about 40 health and social service providers on board, including SSM. They are in the midst of a three year pilot with Aspirus in Marathon County and have also received support from the Department of Public Health here in Dane County.
They have a group of 80 ambassadors who are healthcare professionals in Dane County and hope to launch the site with at least 100 organizations involved. They’ve been working on getting the App up and running for over 3 years.
The grant from Forward Community Investments will be used to get the online application up and running so that HealthConnect can start pairing providers with prospective low-income community members who need health care.
“As far as the uninsured population goes or people living below the poverty line, tens of thousands of people would benefit from this resource,” Dwyer told Madison365. “We feel like it’s a really serious and important issue and we hope we can play a small part in it. It was fantastic Forward Community Investments offered us this opportunity to tell our story. We’re really proud and thrilled to be selected.”
The Game Changer grant program moves into its second year this month. The program offers $3,000 grants to organizations or informal collaborations working for racial equity. It is unique in that it aims to lower the barrier for small nonprofits, requiring only a short form and five-minute video to apply.