Our ONE Health complex care program is a national leader in helping vulnerable patients by addressing their medical and social needs.
ONE Health leaders and supporters recently gathered to watch a film about the program and talk about how it can expand in the future.
The goal is to serve more uninsured patients and apply their strategies to other groups, like patients using Medicaid and private insurance.
Over the past four years, Regional One Health’s ONE Health program has become a national leader in complex care. Now, there is opportunity to expand to help even more patients improve their lives through its model of addressing both medical needs and social determinants of health.
ONE Health leaders and supporters discussed the next steps during a showing of The Hearts of Nurses, a film produced for Regional One Health by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions. It follows the story of ONE Health patient Robert Money to show how the program improves health and reduces emergency department visits and hospital stays for uninsured patients.
Regional One Health President and CEO Reginald Coopwood, MD said donations through the Regional One Health Foundation have been crucial to that success. “ONE Health was launched through philanthropy and continues to be funded largely through philanthropy,” he said. “This is evidence that your belief and your investment is paying off and changing lives for the better.”
“This program has already proven to be transformational, and there is momentum to grow,” ONE Health Director Megan Williams added. “We have built a great foundation, and now we can look to expand, strengthen and build new partnerships.”
Following the screening of The Hearts of Nurses, Chief Development Officer Tammie Ritchey moderated a panel discussion featuring Williams, ONE Health case manager Ashley Eleby, Chief Integration Officer Susan Cooper, and The Assisi Foundation of Memphis Executive Director Jan Young. They discussed how the film has helped highlight ONE Health’s success and how Regional One Health can build on that to expand the program.
Eleby said it was an honor to have the chance to showcase ONE Health and to talk about getting to know Robert as his case manager.
“When we talked about a patient story to share, I automatically thought of Mr. Robert,” she said. “He is someone we all know…someone who worked their entire life, but may not have insurance. Then your health declines and you have one emergency, and you’re back to zero. Everyone can relate to that.”
Young said that’s why The Assisi Foundation was drawn to the vision behind ONE Health, in which social determinants of health like housing, food and transportation are addressed alongside regular medical care. She noted, “As an organization, we were challenged by a Jesuit priest who said there are many people who will help in the dawn of life or the twilight of life, but there are very few who step in and help in the shadows.”
In ONE Health, they saw an initiative that was designed to support individuals who might otherwise fall through the cracks: uninsured patients who are negatively impacted by fragmented health care, homelessness, poverty and other factors.
In the four years since the program started with The Assisi Foundation’s backing, it has enrolled 730 patients. Those patients have received access to medical care and prescriptions to address their physical conditions, along with job placement, behavioral health services, medically-tailored meals, transportation, insurance benefits, etc. to improve their overall health.
“It’s not just that everyone deserves great health care, but that everybody deserves great health,” Cooper explained. “We dig deeper for our patients, and not just from our point of view. We ask our patients, ‘What matters the most to you?’ and then we work on that.”
In The Hearts of Nurses, Money describes how that helped him regain his health.
He got his first job, a paper route, at age 5, and worked his entire adult life installing sprinkler systems. But his health declined, and without regular care, it escalated to a medical crisis. Eleby helped him get back on his feet and obtain the insurance benefits he qualified for.
Individual stories like Money’s are compelling, and so is the data. In four years, ONE Health has reduced emergency department visits by 36 percent, hospital admissions by 53 percent, and length of stay by 60 percent. That equates to a total cost avoidance of $16.9 million.
Cooper said that can be replicated on a larger scale to serve more uninsured patients and other patient populations, such as those using Medicaid and private insurance: “The same interventions can be applied, and the strategies we have in place can work with other populations,” she said.
As needs grow in the community, it’s important to look for ways to do so, Williams said. She noted additional donor support and community partnerships will be key to making that happen: “It takes all of us,” she said. “We need to look at where there are gaps, and decide how we can come together to meet those needs for more patients.”
“A person is formed by their environment, and if we don’t attend to the gaps, we can’t improve their health,” Cooper added. “We need to think about health care differently and use funding streams and partnerships in a new way to support the whole person. If we work together, this program can have a lasting legacy for this community.”