Collaborating for a healthier community
Expanded 2-1-1 service benefits community, health care providers and Mayo
True to its name and original vision, the Olmsted County Community Healthcare Access Collaborative found a new way to help patients and providers find and access reliable community health services this year: United Way's 2-1-1 information and referral service.
Paul Targonski, M.D., Ph.D., one of the co-founders of the Community Healthcare Access Collaborative (CHAC) and a Mayo Clinic Primary Care Internal Medicine physician says, "The Community Healthcare Access Collaborative was created with the vision that ... health care-related service providers in the community could come together to share issues they are facing. They share how they provide services and what their clients' needs are, as well as identify ways to provide shared solutions to client needs."
Multicultural volunteer coalition
Today the community-based multicultural volunteer coalition includes more than 20 providers, including medical, public health, social service and other organizations. Its members are a diverse representation of racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, religious and other groups that make up our community.
Common barriers found in health care access and delivery
Several years ago, the collaborative conducted two surveys. One asked community members about barriers to accessing health care, and the other asked providers about barriers to providing health care. Both groups cited the same top three barriers:
- The inability for health care providers to exchange information.
- Mixed messages among providers.
- A lack of awareness about community-based health services.
"On the basis of those responses, we felt we needed to do something," says Dr. Targonski. "The United Way, with the 2-1-1 line, was already there."
Member commitment grows 2-1-1
Members of the Community Healthcare Access Collaborative committed to maintaining current, accurate and comprehensive information with 2-1-1 Information & Referral Search. They also committed to directing community members to 2-1-1 to get community-based health information.
"Because our effort was so successful in reinvigorating 2-1-1, United Way was willing to let CHAC grow the system even further," says Dr. Targonski. "They allowed it to be used not just for people to identify where to get services to help them manage their health conditions, but also to help people become aware of wellness resources in the community so they can be more proactive when it comes to health and wellness."
Those wellness resources include smoking cessation programs, biking trails, parks, farmer's markets and weight-loss programs, among many others.
"The beauty is that the health and wellness information provided by 2-1-1 is evidence-based," says Dr. Targonski. "When people use the resources, the services they receive have met a standard of evidence that shows they actually work."
Improving patient-provider interactions
Because 2-1-1 offers such reliable information about community services, Mayo Clinic primary care providers often share that information with patients, using it as an opportunity to discuss the importance of ongoing wellness.
"It's very helpful to have 2-1-1 information available at the point of contact with patients. That's a big deal," says Dr. Targonski.