When people are able to access medical care from their homes, it reduces or eliminates a barrier to carefor one of the most vulnerable populations. When people don’t have to leave their homes to interface with health experts, we are able to reach and assist kids and families that would otherwise face challenges traveling to distant clinics.
As part of our Strategic Plan, we are looking to not only expand home-based services, but also build a body of best-practices for the delivery of services in a home-based or virtual setting. Although MCC had begun offering virtual asthma and allergy clinic visits to a small group of patients prior to the onset of the pandemic, the reality of healthcare in the time of COVID-19 pushed us to offer 100% of our asthma/allergy visits virtually. Since people with asthma were spending more time than ever at home, we began providing virtual home environment assessments to identify and remove allergy triggers that were counteracting asthma medications.
Not only have virtual asthma and allergy clinic visits had far better outcomes than we could have anticipated, but virtual home environment assessments have been a great success as well. In the future we will work to reduce the time that it takes for families to receive allergy remediation products by having a supply of products readily available for delivery to families. Once this is done, it will help us collect baseline (and other) data sooner as well as identify and address asthma/allergy issues more quickly.
-Kamari Thompson, Patient Services Manager
Transportation is the top barrier to clinic access on every patient survey Mobile Care distributes. It’s easy to say, “well, such-and-such clinic is only a 25 minute drive from so-and-so’s house,” but that ignores so many complicated factors including: 1) where the child’s school is in relation to the clinic (since most parents need to factor in time to pick up the child from school); 2) whether the parent has a reliable car; 3) whether they live in an area with linear bus routes from home to school to clinic (and back again); not to mention, 4) the most important factor: work schedule. With these complications, it’s easy to see why parents consistently flag transportation as the top barrier, and why it’s nationally considered one of the core “Social Determinant of Health.”
Allowing parents to join a child’s appointment remotely, and assuming the burden ourselves of ferrying children to and from their classrooms to the mobile clinic, means parents don’t have to leave work or (these days) home-based work environments in order for their child to receive on-going, excellent quality follow-up care. The strides we’ve made solving this barrier for parents (such as the telehealth appointments and virtual home environment assessments that Kamari mentions, but also working with parents via our dental clinic to provide oral health education remotely) are among the most important innovations we’ve taken on. As a result of telehealth implementation alone, our no-show rate dropped from 27% to 12%. That’s a game-changing impact for children with chronic diseases.
Also of note, in March 2021 we began working with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Meals on Wheels, and the Cook County Department of Public Health to launch delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations to home-bound people. We are the only group providing this urgently needed service in the southern suburbs of Cook County, where our medical providers have delivered over 800 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the past six months. This program is bringing a potentially life-saving vaccine to seniors and people with severe medical conditions, and is helping us deepen our understanding of the protocols and procedures needed to deliver other medical services directly to people’s homes.
-Matt Siemer, Executive Director