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TACHC and Unite Us will work together to advance health equity
The pandemic underscored inequities in healthcare that have existed for decades, as underserved populations, including those who are lower incomes, the elderly, people with disabilities, veterans, the homeless, and the uninsured, lack access to critical resources such as nutrition, housing assistance, and transportation.
Two organizations that are attempting to solve this problem, the Texas Association of Community Health Centers (TACHC), an association committed to advancing equitable access to quality healthcare in Texas, and Unite Us, a technology company connecting health and social care, have decided to partner, announcing earlier this week that TACHC will join the Unite Texas network.
Together, the two entities will be expanding a coordinated care network that addresses unmet social needs and improves health outcomes for Texans.
"This partnership between TACHC and Unite Us has great potential to impact the lives of our patients. SDoH, or the non-medical drivers of health, can drive as much as 80% of health outcomes. The regionally located Community Engagement Managers at Unite Us can help Texas health centers better locate and leverage social resources within their community," Jana Eubank, Executive Director at TACHC, told VatorNews.
"Moreover, the closed-loop referral process within the platform will allow health centers and care managers to track the care of their patients across their social service journey."
What this means, she explained, is that when TACHC refers patients to social needs services, such as those addressing housing, transportation, or food insecurity, its centers will now receive information on what services were used by the patient, what the disposition of the visit was, and if any other needs were identified.
"We first learned of TACHC because of the great work they’re already doing in the state of Texas. They, like Unite Texas, are mission driven and together we share a vision of advancing health equity for Texans," said Brandon White, State Network Director at Unite Us.
"Our collective goal is to provide equitable access to care for all residents as efficiently and effectively as possible, no matter where in the state you live and through this partnership we will be able to do just that."
Founded in 1983, TACHC, which is the federally designated primary care association for Texas, is a private, not-for-profit membership association committed to advancing equitable access to quality healthcare in Texas by supporting and advocating for federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). Members operate in Texas's urban, rural, and frontier areas, all with the mission of advancing access to healthcare for all Texans.
"Texas has the highest percentage and number of people without health insurance in the United States," Eubank explained.
"In the health care community, we often talk about 'access to care' and assess policies according to whether they will enhance or inhibit the availability and affordability of health care, particularly for those with lower incomes, the elderly, those with disabilities, veterans, homeless individuals, or those without health insurance. For FQHCs, increasing access to care means making it physically, financially, linguistically, and culturally accessible."
Unite Us, which was founded in 2013, is a technology company that builds coordinated care networks of health and human service providers to address all determinants of health.
The company's coordinated care networks are built in partnership with community stakeholders and our community engagement experts, who are representative of the communities served, are hired locally, and skilled in collective impact.
"This locally reflective, social care network uses nuanced data and unique community context to understand barriers and leverage facilitators to drive positive change in their communities," White said.
"Unite Us is uniquely positioned to address health equity. Our solution brings together partners from government, health care, and community-based organizations, identifies and elevates the needs of local communities, and builds an inclusive infrastructure that increases access to resources and improves the health of all communities."
Partners in The Unite Texas network are connected through Unite Us' technology platform, which allows them to send and receive closed-loop, electronic referrals, and helps connect people to resources and services such as housing, food, transportation, and employment assistance.
By partnering with Unite Us, TACHC will gain an improved understanding of patient needs across the state, identify gaps and inequity, and inform policy decisions, Eubanks said.
"The social need screening assessments native to the Unite Us Platform, the closed-loop referral process, and the robust community network will allow our health centers to spend more time on patient care and better leverage their internal resources to have the most impact on the outcomes of their patient population," she explained.
"Furthermore, Unite Us’ data dashboarding, including the Health Equity dashboard, will allow us to better understand the overall aggregate social needs of our over 1.6 million patients across the state, the disparities in outcomes and need, and the reach of our local community benefit organizations."
As for Unite Us, White believes that the partnership with TACHC will "facilitate quicker, more streamlined connections to care and actionable outcomes data that is rooted in community and social infrastructure."
"Their member community health centers will allow us to advance health equity in a large portion of the state, impacting numerous communities. Ensuring people’s health is prioritized and getting them connected to critical resources and services that will help them thrive is a collective goal of ours and TACHC," he said.
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