Safety nets are essential community partners in our shared goal of improving the health of individuals and communities. Community funded clinics, rural health clinics, free clinics, school-based health centers, and Federally Qualified Health Centers are vital parts of Colorado's health care safety net, providing quality care for the state's most under-resourced populations.
Access to care is identified as a prioritized health need in our community health needs assessment. We're committed to supporting this need and the safety net through a variety of ways.
Recognizing the shortage of primary care providers in the state, we invest in a program that allows Kaiser Permanente clinicians to provide clinical services at a safety net clinic. Each professional may serve up to 96 hours per year to deliver care directly to community patients.
Our Safety Net Specialty Care Program allows safety net primary care providers to electronically request advice (or, e-consult) with select Kaiser Permanente specialists regarding their uninsured adult patients. The program also provides specific face-to-face specialty care visits for safety net patients and offers opportunities for medical education to safety net providers.
Thanks to the 100 specialists across Allergy/Immunology, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Pulmonology, and Rheumatology that are currently participating in the Program — this resource is available to over 200 primary care providers at Clinica Family Health Services, Clinica Tepeyac, Inner City Health Center, Mission Medical Clinic, Mountain Family Health Centers, STRIDE Community Health Center, Salud Family Health Centers, and Summit Community Care Clinic.
Since the program's inception in March 2013 through November 30, 2019, specialists conducted 3,330 e-consults and provided 801 face-to-face visits. The program has contributed to the care of over 2,697 unique patients, many of whom would have likely sought care at an emergency department or gone without care altogether. We have also provided 8 medical education opportunities for safety net providers and staff.
“The opportunity to provide broad-based medical specialty advice and select, face-to-face care for safety-net patients truly aligns with Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the care of our communities” said John Riopelle, MD, Kaiser Permanente gastroenterologist. “In addition, our providers enjoy the satisfaction of caring for under-resourced populations, delivering advice and care to help meet the needs of our local safety-net partners and their patients.” Gastroenterology made up 40% (242 of 601) of all e-consults responded to and 66% (99 of 151) of all face-to-face visits in 2019.
We support ASCENT, a cohort of grantees working to increase and improve access to specialty care for low-income adults. They will also develop and pilot a process for communication and referrals across organizations, service areas, and systems using virtual and technological solutions. The cohort of grantees includes:
We support the cohort by sharing best practices from our Safety Net Specialty Care Program and working with the group on other ways to address the specialty care need.
Cost prohibits many safety-net organizations from attending IHI trainings. Because we believe in investing in the capacity-building of our community health partners, we offer scholarships to support online and local learning through IHI. Scholarships are available to staff currently working in a community funded clinic, rural health clinic, free clinic, school-based health center, or Federally Qualified Health Center.
Partnerships with safety nets are critical to providing equitable access to health care regardless of race, ethnicity, or income level. In 2011, we created the Care Equity Project to address cultural disparities during clinical visits. With increasing numbers of Americans living in poverty, the Arts Integrated Resources team collaborates with safety net partners to assist care providers in understanding the health needs and challenges of people living with limited financial resources.
Through one or more workshops, professional facilitators provide experiential activities addressing bias, culture, and social determinants of health to develop skills and promote equitable and empathetic health care delivery. CEP brings concepts from the head to the heart using theatre, personal stories, and facilitation. All programs are free to community groups along Colorado's Front Range.
From March 2016 to March 2018, we supported a cohort of 13 grantees to work on decreasing food insecurity. Three grantees were safety-net organizations working specifically to increase enrollment in SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: SET Family Clinics, Doctors Care, and Children's Hospital.
See the highlights from this initiative: