Some of the world’s top technology innovators are volunteering their time to competing for a chance to make telehealth services more widely available in disadvantaged communities in the U.S., through a corporate challenge that seeks to break down healthcare barriers intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Launched by PYXERA Global, the Reimagining Community Health Systems Challenge brings together teams from four Fortune 500 companies who will collaborate on ways to integrate telehealth into services provided by Community Health Centers. The competition will help the 30 million Americans who rely on Community Health Centers, serving people who lack health insurance, are underinsured, or are otherwise medically underserved.
Limited access to healthcare in underserved communities has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fears of coronavirus transmission have kept patients from seeing their doctors for primary care visits, childhood immunizations, women’s wellness visits, and other critical health screenings.
Furthermore, the digital divide and limited digital literacy makes virtual doctor visits that are available elsewhere more challenging.
The Current Situation: Lack of regular follow-up care and management of chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and other chronic diseases in underserved communities; as well as fewer prenatal visits, fewer consultations for depression and mental health, and less drug or alcohol addiction treatment. Moreover, the inability to access basic healthcare services leads to even greater inequalities in other areas, including education and economic achievement.
The Challenge Opportunity: The Reimagining Community Health Systems Challenge will bring together the power of nonprofit clinics, health workers, and the technology industry. Corporate volunteers will work in mixed teams to develop outside-the-box solutions to increasing access to telehealth services and building the capacity for Community Health Centers to conduct telehealth services across the country.
“Applying technology to bridge gaps between patients and providers is an important advancement in healthcare equity,” said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers, (NACHC). “Health centers were using telehealth before the pandemic struck to expand access to care, but COVID-19 was a game changer in reducing barriers for people afraid to seek routine care or who were following stay-at-home orders. Now some 98 percent of health centers use telehealth/telephonic services to stay connected to patients, a majority of whom are low income, minority, and uninsured or publicly insured.”
NACHC is helping to direct the Reimagining Community Health Systems as a co-anchor partner along with the Iowa Primary Care Association. Through this Challenge, NACHC will be better equipped to respond to the unique needs of the clinics who reach these communities in a quickly changing landscape.
“It’s not the platform that is of preeminent importance, but what we’re trying to accomplish as a network,” said Aaron Todd, CEO of the Iowa Primary Care Association. “Our network’s vision is health equity for all, and this opportunity will ensure the steps we take to further embrace telehealth are prioritized to improve access and quality of healthcare services for all Iowans.”
The Reimagining Community Health Systems Challenge will feature cross-company collaboration as employees volunteer on teams of as many as four members. The teams are made up of employees from SAP, the world’s largest provider of enterprise application software, committed to improving people’s lives through intelligent technologies; Medtronic, among the world’s largest medical technology, services and solutions companies – alleviating pain, restoring health and extending life for millions of people around the world; BD (Becton, Dickinson, and Company), another leading global medical technology company; and Celanese, a global chemical and specialty materials company.
Lead corporate partners and sponsors, SAP and the Medtronic Foundation, a charitable foundation funded solely by Medtronic and dedicated to improving health among underserved populations and supporting communities worldwide, along with Celanese and BD, are partners in the Reimagining Community Health Systems Challenge.
The challenge kicked off in July, with teams collaborating virtually throughout August. As anchor partners, NACHC and the Iowa Primary Care Association will oversee different portions of the competition.
The scope of NACHC’s challenge will involve developing a telehealth business plan for Community Health Centers across the country, with an emphasis on including community stakeholders who can help determine the role the umbrella organization can play in making telehealth more widely available. The scope of the Iowa Primary Care Association challenge will be to develop a step-by-step framework to roll out telehealth to the organization’s network of 13 Community Health Centers and one migrant health program.
Judging will be based on innovation, social impact, sustainability, desirability, feasibility, and viability.
The winning solution will be announced in early September, followed by the pilot phase for implementing the winning solution for the Anchor Partners.
PYXERA Global launched the Reimagining Community Health Systems in May as part of a larger “Reimagine Series” of social impact challenges designed to find innovative solutions to longstanding societal concerns that have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Reimagine Series aims to bridge those concerns by focusing on areas of systemic challenges during these uncertain times. Each challenge in the series will bring together multiple corporate partners and at least one anchor partner to solve social, economic, and environmental problems in their fields, including systemic issues in major cities throughout the U.S.
For more information, please visit the Reimagine Series homepage.
Thought Leadership and Media Manager, PYXERA Global
About PYXERA Global
For 30 years, PYXERA Global has facilitated mutually beneficial partnerships between the public, private, and social sectors worldwide to drive social impact that enriches lives and livelihoods, inclusively and sustainably.