The Health Resources & Services Administration announced that the Washington County Mobile Integrated Healthcare Network in Potosi, Mo., was awarded the top prize of $150,000 in the nationwide program, “Building Bridges to Better Health: A Primary Health Care Challenge.” This is not only a win for the Washington County MIH Network and other networks in Missouri, but for all Missourians challenged with accessing traditional “brick and mortar” healthcare.
This challenge began in 2022, and activated and accelerated the development and testing of low-cost, scalable technical assistance solutions. Participating organizations’ solutions yielded resources that HRSA-supported health centers across the country can use or scale to improve health outcomes for their patients. The focus of the Challenge was to address key drivers of poor health and social determinants of health (SDOH) that contribute to poor health outcomes. Solutions resulting from the Challenge will support health centers to enhance access to primary care and to improve care coordination with other local providers and social service organizations to address SDOH.
Challenge winner, Washington County Mobile Integrated Healthcare Network, is the first mobile integrated care model in the country that is a primary partnership with an Emergency Medical Services Agency (Washington County Ambulance District) and a federally qualified health center (Great Mines Health Center). The third partner is Community Asset Builders, a resource development and support company that strives to support systems of care. The “MIHN” model is now being replicated in several counties across Missouri and the mid-west region.
“Our model initiates primary care in the home with community paramedics and serves as the bridge between the patient and provider to ensure our patients receive the right care, at the right place, at the right time,” said Justin Duncan, Chief Executive Officer at Washington County Ambulance District and a founding partner of the Washington County MIH Network. “We are able to ensure both medical and non-medical needs are being met for our patients outside the traditional brick and mortar environment.”
The networks operate in regions where many residents face poor health outcomes and lack transportation, insurance and specialty health care. The networks also include diverse partners, including hospitals, rural health clinics, public health agencies and local physicians. The MIH Networks primarily serve individuals who are below 200% of the federal poverty level who overuse emergency services for non-emergency care.
Great Mines Health Center CEO and founding partner, Gregory Roeback, stated, “Looking back, it is incredible to think that we had not worked more closely with the Washington County Ambulance District. The pandemic helped us realize that we are natural partners with our similar missions and that collectively we have a much greater impact in eliminating barriers to care and improving health outcomes for those we serve.”
This challenge aligns with HRSA’s Advancing Health Center Excellence Framework, which aims to help advance health center performance and innovation, and specifically connects to the key domain of Population Health and Social Determinants of Health.
Doris Boeckman, Executive/Co-Founder, of Community Asset Builders and also a founding partner of the Network added, “Our role has been to help EMS agencies and community health centers in Missouri better understand how they can leverage each other’s workforces and services. We help existing and newly forming networks connect not only to their local resources but to state and federal resources through relationship building.”
All Washington County MIH Network partners agree that the engagement of local and state leaders in frequent and ongoing conversations about the successes and challenges of the model has been instrumental and is a must for long-term sustainability. The partners went into the Challenge with this mindset and a focus on scalability.
“The innovative and impactful work of the Washington County Mobile Integrated Network is exemplary and well-deserving of this recognition, they have paved the way for replication and advancement of this model throughout our state,” said Paula F. Nickelson, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “Missouri’s health outcomes, often ranking in the lower half of the country on key indicators, requires all involved to approach health differently. Washington County’s work provides a prime example of integrated, preventive care focused on optimizing the available workforce and prioritizing the needs of the patient. We are so proud of their work and this award recognizing their work!”
Key Impacts & Results of the Washington County Mobile Integrated Healthcare Network
- Achieved a 50% reduction in costs, demonstrated through captured Medicaid and Medicare savings data by the Washington County MIH Network.
- Improved clinical measures, including higher rates of preventive screenings and better-managed blood pressure, compared to health center patients who did not participate in the MIH Network.
- In Washington County, MO, a food distribution service provided food to 1,794 households (4,729 individuals).
- In Washington County, Community Health Workers and Community Paramedics are now co-located at the health center and have daily huddles to improve care coordination and service delivery.
- 100% patient satisfaction in Washington County.