The state funding will go to OSF HealthCare and four federally qualified health centers that have launched a five-year program to develop new technology platforms and services to help underserved communities access healthcare.
Illinois is spending almost $66 million on a new program aimed at helping underserved communities access care.
The state’s Department of Health and Family Services is funding Peoria-based OSF HealthCare and a group of federal qualified health centers (FQHCs) that have launched the Medicaid Innovation Collaborative (MIC). The MIC will use the money to develop innovative new technologies and services that help people struggling with social determinants of health, such as financial issues, housing and food insecurity, which affect how they access healthcare.
“We learned during the pandemic that virtual care was a game-changer for patients, and the new funding will help us implement the latest technologies to expand access to care for underserved communities and vulnerable populations,” Michelle Conger, CEO of OSF OnCall Digital Health, said in a press release. “As a leader in digital health, we are excited to develop, implement and evaluate innovative, evidence-based strategies that will improve health and wellness for all residents in the communities served by OSF and our partners, regardless of their income level or where they live.”
Healthcare organizations across the country are using digital health platforms to address those barriers to care often found in Medicare and Medicaid populations. Without that access, consumers often avoid or skip needed healthcare services, exacerbating chronic conditions, reducing healthy lifestyles and leading to costly healthcare services and reduced clinical outcomes down the road.
OSF OnCall, the health system’s digital health platform, will be working with four FQHCs – Heartland Health Services in Peoria, Chestnut Health Systems in Bloomington, the Eagle View Community Health System in Oquawka, and Aunt Martha’s Health & Wellness in Danville – to equip community health workers and medical care teams with digital health tools to help assess and treat patients, including giving them resources and access to virtual care opportunities.
Those services will include chronic care management, behavioral health treatments, maternal and child health services, cancer screenings, and dental services. In addition, the program will support additional staff at community health clinics, EHR implementations, mobile health units and digital health connectivity in underserved areas.
The project will also create about 100 new healthcare jobs, potentially affected about a third of the state. The MIC is partnering with Illinois Central College in East Peoria to train people to fill those community health worker positions.
Officials says the program’s goal is to provide 1 million episodes of care for Medicaid patients over the next five years, especially targeting the state’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities.
Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.