Mobilizes college volunteers to connect patients with basic resources needed to be healthy.
To improve health outcomes and reduce costs, Health Leads envisions a healthcare system that addresses the basic resource needs of all patients as a standard part of patient care. Every day, doctors across the U.S. prescribe antibiotics, inhalers, or other medications to patients who have no food at home or are living in a car. The medical literature tells us that medicine alone won’t solve these problems, and many of these patients will return with more serious illnesses. Poor health, in turn, further entrenches families in poverty.
Health Leads’ model is simple and effective: the organization enables clinicians to “prescribe” food, heating assistance, housing, or other resources for their patients, just as they do medication. Patients take these prescriptions to Health Leads desks in clinic waiting rooms, where our college volunteers “fill” them by connecting patients with these critical resources. At the same time, by providing a transformative volunteer experience, Health Leads is producing a pipeline of new leaders with the skills, knowledge, and experience to bring about change in the healthcare system. It also reaches out to the larger healthcare community with publications and presentations, such as the recent opening- night talk at TEDMED2012 by Health Leads CEO and Co-Founder Rebecca Onie.
- Mission | Theory Of Change
To improve health outcomes and reduce costs, Health Leads envisions a healthcare system that addresses the basic resource needs of all patients as a standard part of patient care.
Every day, doctors across the U.S. prescribe antibiotics, inhalers, or other medications to patients who have no food at home or are living in a car. The medical literature tells us that medicine alone won’t solve these problems, and many of these patients will return with more serious illnesses. Poor health, in turn, further entrenches families in poverty. Doctors generally do not address these basic resource needs. Just as they would not prescribe medicine without pharmacies, if they cannot treat hunger, they do not ask families if they are running out of food.
Health Leads empowers doctors and other healthcare providers to prescribe solutions that improve health and not just manage disease. In addition, Health Leads' theory of change extends to its volunteers, as the next generation of healthcare leaders. After years of working in the chaotic waiting rooms of urban clinics to collaboratively connect patients to the basic resources they need to be healthy, Health Leads' volunteers have the conviction, ability, and efficacy to realize our deepest aspirations for healthcare.
- History | Track Record
As a college freshman, Rebecca Onie read that Dr. Barry Zuckerman, Chair of Pediatrics at Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center), had assembled a dream team of experts to create a pediatrics clinic where children actually get healthy. Dr. Zuckerman’s vision resonated with Rebecca, who spent the next six months interviewing physicians, asking: “With unlimited resources, what would you give your patients?” Again and again, they answered: “Every day, I have patients with ear infections or asthma. I prescribe medication but know they have no food or live in a car. I know these factors will have a more profound impact on my patients’ health than anything I do in the doctor’s office, but I don’t ask about these issues because I have no idea what to do.”
Born of these conversations, Health Leads was co-founded by Rebecca and Dr. Zuckerman 16 years ago (in 1996, in Boston) to address the pressing need articulated by these doctors: the absence of an affordable, scalable model for addressing patients’ unmet resource needs. Last year, Health Leads’ corps of 1,000 volunteers worked in 21 clinics in six cities to connect nearly 9,000 patients and their families with the basic resources they need to be healthy. Health Leads' partners also include the 12 universities and colleges its volunteers attend, and the hundreds of social service organizations to which it help connect clients.
- Grant Usage
Health Leads’ vision of a healthcare system that addresses the basic resource needs of all patients as a standard part of patient care hinges on the generous support of those who share this vision. The four goals of its current, four-year strategic plan are to 1) Increase patient resource connections using a scalable, clinic-based model; 2) Establish a business case for creating patient resource connections in order to generate earned revenue from its partners; 3) Create a leadership pipeline to champion new models of healthcare delivery; and 4) Prepare Health Leads for rapid future growth.
Health Leads invites a partnership with the One Percent Foundation so it can continue to make progress in meeting these goals. With OPF's support, for example, Health Leads plans to increase the number of annual connections that it assists patients in making to food, housing, and other basic resources to total nearly 15,000 by 2014. It also plans to expand the cohort of Health Leads’ partner clinics by adding:
- Eight new Health Leads desks in its six current cities
- Two new Health Leads desks in a new city
- Financial, Staffing, & Project Summary
In 2011, total revenues were $7,033,817 while expenditures were $5,163,344 (the surplus comes from multiyear pledges for Health Leads' Proof fund). $3, 235,957 was spent on salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes, and there are 52 full-time employees.
- Working Group Analysis
Health Leads’ mission and model align deeply with OPF’s vision of impact. Health Leads is an innovative organization, mobilizing community actors and in particular young leaders to fill a critical gap in the healthcare system. Recognizing the importance of prescribing “social resources” in addition to drug-based remedies, Health Leads engages young leaders’ commitment, passion, and skills to effectively connect patients, physicians, and social service organizations in the larger healthcare community. In addition, by involving such individuals early in their professional careers, Health Leads empowers and exposes young leaders to issues of social justice through holistic, well-planned, and oftentimes transformative volunteer experiences. With nearly 20 years of history and an ambitious strategic growth plan, the organization continues to have deep and positive impact in their communities and on future leaders.
Based on the working group's research and analysis, Health Leads is a highly effective organization at addressing and targeting the systemic issues affecting low-income communities’ level of health and quality of life. Their model is one that positively impacts the sector and community and as such, continues to be featured and discussed in national healthcare debates. In April 2012, the Health Resources and Services Agency, a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, highlighted Health Leads as a best practice for its network of 7,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers. The organization has also been featured in The New York Times, Healthcare Finance News, and Stanford Social Innovation Review. Health Leads further provides fantastic opportunities for young professionals interested in deepening their understanding of issues of public health and poverty. Last year 86% of Health Leads graduates entered jobs or graduate study in the fields of health and poverty, with 75% of them reporting that Health Leads had a “high” or “very high” impact on their post-graduate plans.
- Nominator Endorsement