A bridge connecting healthcare with patients’ social and environmental needs
Led by Rudy Fedrizzi, MD, Director of Clinical Integration, Center for Population Health (CPH), Cheshire Medical Center, Prescribe for Health is a pilot program that aims to empower medical teams to connect patients with many existing community-based supports that will allow them to live healthier lives.
In addition to quality medical care, researchers define education, jobs, family stability, safety, access to healthy environments, wholesome food, and physical activity as principal components of better health. “Most physicians understand that our health is largely affected by the environments and circumstances we experience outside of the doctor’s office. At the same time, the majority of physicians do not readily have access to the resources available, beyond medical treatment, to help patients make healthier lifestyle changes and prevent chronic disease,” says Dr. Fedrizzi. “Through Prescribe for Health, medical teams at Cheshire are able to identify their patients’ areas of need and engage the Center’s [CPH] Population Health Workers, who assist patients in accessing available community resources.”
Tracy Clark, Population Health Worker, Prescribe for Health, Cheshire Medical Center, explains her role, “As Population Health Workers, we meet people where they are at, keeping them in the driver’s seat as we build trusting relationships together. We may first meet a patient to help with resources for transportation to medical appointments or to provide assistance with paperwork to establish more secure housing. That same person may later share that some costly medications are not being covered by their insurance, or that they are feeling a bit lonely and isolated. Then we have opportunities to help further.”
The unique program allows providers the opportunity to address many of a patient’s unmet social needs, providing truly comprehensive quality care.
Leveraging options when the cost of medicine becomes a hindrance
For some patients, the cost of long-term prescription medications causes financial hardship, at times forcing the choice between buying food or medication. Cheshire’s Medication Assistance Program Coordinator works in partnership with Cheshire physicians and providers and pharmaceutical companies to help patients access the medications vital to their continued good health.
Patients referred to the program by their Cheshire healthcare provider receive help navigating the complexities of qualifications, financial requirements, deadlines, and fulfillment times. “I work closely with the prescribing physicians,” says Hayley Compos, Medication Assistance Program Coordinator, Center for Population Health, Cheshire Medical Center, “I research free options offered through the drug companies’ assistance programs, and the prescribing physician will review with me to determine if the medication is appropriate for the patient’s medical needs,” says Compos, “Sometimes, the patient’s condition doesn’t allow for an alternative, or the patient doesn’t meet the pharmaceutical company’s financial guidelines.”
Pharmaceutical company financial assistance programs support uninsured patients. However, many patients are underinsured and are challenged by the cost of medications. Compos will work with patients to leverage cost reducing options to ease the financial burden.
“One of the most frustrating aspects of my job is when patients can’t afford medications they desperately need to maintain or improve their health. So, it’s a wonderful thing when a patient qualifies for one or more medications through the Medical Assistance Program because I know they are going to get quality medications in a consistent and timely fashion. Hayley does an awesome job making this happen,” says Donald Mazanowksi, MD, Family Medicine Team B, Cheshire Medical Center of the program.
To learn more about the Medication Assistance Program at Cheshire Medical Center, visit cheshiremed.org/medication-assistance.
Navigating healthcare resources together
Ruth Abbott is the Family Resource Counselor within Cheshire’s Center for Population Health. She provides information and referral services to patients and community members for available local, state, and federal resources. What she really provides is much more. As individuals navigate a family member’s changing health needs or their own, they are faced with numerous considerations besides physical health. “How will I pay health care costs?” and “how can I provide daily care for my family member and still remain employed?” are just a couple of the stressful questions many people face. Ruth provides one-on-one assistance to families in completing NH Medicaid applications for a variety of programs.
Ruth is also a Certified Application Counselor for the Health Insurance Marketplace. She helps individuals determine eligibility for a number of programs including NH Health Access, free or reduced cost services including prenatal care and delivery, health care for children ages birth through 19-years, preventive and restorative dental care, prescription drugs, vision exams and eyeglasses, mental health services, and drug and alcohol services.
“Many people have no idea what types of services there are available, or how pieces can be put together to solve problems. It’s all about knowing who the right contacts are, and having good relationships with them,” says Abbott as she describes her work, “I don’t have all the answers. I can’t resolve everyone’s problems every time. But I reassure people that they don’t have to do it alone. I’m with them, and together we navigate their options. Working together and making it better together is all about collaboration. I am humbled by the trust people place in me.”
To learn more about the Family Resource Conseling at Cheshire Medical Center, visit our Family Resource Counseling page.