This post is part of NACHC’s Innovation Blog Series. This series is hosted monthly by our Center for Community Health Innovation.
There are good ideas everywhere in the Community Health Center Movement. NACHC’s Center for Community Health Innovation was established to help equip health centers with the innovation tools, resources and inspiration necessary to bring these ideas to reality. A case in point is health centers’ efforts to advance health equity through technology. The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a rapid deployment of telehealth tools: 95% of health centers were using audio and video telehealth regularly for medical visits by 2021, according to NACHC. Yet there are still areas of unmet need across the country. The Advisory Board reports that one in four Americans may not have access to technology, the internet, or the digital literacy needed for a video telehealth visit. The situation is even worse in rural areas. According to the Federal Communications Commission, one in four rural Americans don’t have home internet, affordable devices, telehealth portal or device literacy, or overall health literacy.
Even if some modest gains have been made in access to broadband, to technology, to devices and in digital and health literacy, there is no doubt that a tremendous gap remains and that it has a direct impact on health equity and access and ultimately on health outcomes for millions of people.
Now there’s a new opportunity for health center innovation to address health equity by incubating solutions to digital and health literacy, thanks to a new partnership with the global health care company Abbott. Abbott has teamed up with NACHC’s Center for Community Health Innovation and NACHC’s own experts from Informatics, Population Health and Training and Technical Assistance to launch a new Innovation Incubator initiative. This initiative will help guide health centers in using a human-centered design approach to improve health equity by addressing their own digital and health literacy challenges. With initial seed funding for selected health centers, access to leading experts, and training on human-centered design principles, participants will design and test their solutions – all with the broader goal of sharing what works with health centers nationwide.
A cohort of 8 health centers will be chosen to incubate their co-designed solutions and work with experts in the digital and health literacy, technology, UX, broadband, business development/sustainability and other fields during a 7-month period. All cohort members will be awarded $40,000 in funding and as the program concludes in fall 2023, they will have a chance to win one of two additional $25,000 awards at a live Pitch Session.
The Center for Community Health Innovation was established in 2021 to serve as a catalyst for innovation at America’s Community Health Centers and to help advance future-focused approaches that increase access to affordable, equitable, quality health care for all. The Center was established by a generous grant from the RCHN Community Health Foundation