Community Health

2 minute read • updated August 29, 2018

Major trends

  • Consumers are seeking out lower-cost health measures in their personal and family lives; digitized consumer care models are gaining popularity as a way to save costs and reduce the time burden of bureaucratic medical intervention.
  • Low-income communities have disproportionate health needs.
  • Children face serious logistical challenges making basic medical appointments, keeping up regular medical routines, and taking medication.
  • Urban hospitals are under-resourced, seeking new strategies for addressing both these low-income health problems.
  • Community health workers (CHWs) have emerged as a powerful healthcare technique for bridging economic and technical divides.

Hypothesis

Healthcare will shift from a burdensome, ad-hoc institutional process into a more powerful, flexible and scalable system more capable of meeting needs for all members of society.

Hospital teams need front-line personnel who go into communities and work with patients in their homes to find counseling, perform medical routines, strategize about healthcare, and find community resources.

These teams will benefit from specialized communication tools.

Story

Disparities in health in the United States have grown, leaving some urban cores on par with undeveloped nations. The rate of chronic illness such as diabetes, asthma, sickle cell disproportionately affect those who lack access to broader social services such as education and a high quality food supply. Addressing the chronic health needs of urban cores requires a holistic examination of these "social determinants" of health.

UIC hospitals in Chicago have developed an innovative technique for Community Health Workers who are trained non-medical staff working with people their own communities. The CHW model provides an essential "concierge" support layer for those facing illness.

What we have validated

The Data Guild has collaborated with UIC to develop new communication strategies and tools for addressing the specific needs of health workers in this context. Our Faer pilot has shown that secure, stable messaging platform can help scale the efforts of health workers both internally to the health care team and externally while working directly with patients.

Risks and Questions

  • Will the emergent community health worker model be effective at changing the underlying dynamics of social health, instead of merely serving to relieve pressure on emergency rooms?
  • Can hospitals find funding models adequate to support health worker teams with appropriate salaries, or will health worker positions be low-wage, low-quality, short-term work?
  • Can hospitals find qualified health workers to scale up the model?
  • Equipment integration: Will residential storage technology providers be persuadable to open their units to market-driven dispatch?
  • Can CHW tools become robust while still meeting patient privacy needs?
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