A Worthy Investment in a Powerful Asset

“I want to fund the activities that no one wants to pay for.”

This bold statement from the President of The JPB Foundation a year ago enabled our team at Health Leads to dream big about how we could use technology to increase program efficiencies and serve more clients.

Technology infrastructure is a pillar of effective management in the “for-profit” business world, long recognized as essential for delivering value to customers. In the nonprofit world however, few foundations see technology as a worthy investment of their grant dollars, preferring to focus investment on initiatives that can show a more immediate route to impact.

This reality was again made evident in the recent report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Nonprofit Challenges: What Foundations Can Do. According to the report, only about five percent
of nonprofits receive assistance beyond that grant from foundations to help with information technology. Thankfully, we at Health Leads have been fortunate to benefit from funders willing to buck that trend.

To improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, Health Leads envisions a healthcare system that addresses patients’ basic resource needs as a standard part of care. We enable doctors and other healthcare providers to “prescribe” basic resources like food banks, health insurance, and utility assistance and we train and mobilize undergraduate volunteer Advocates to “fill” these prescriptions by working side-by-side with patients to access the resources in their communities.

At the core of our model is the ability to quickly search thousands of community-based resources, surfacing those that best match a patient’s needs based on factors such as proximity, accessibility, hours of operation, patient eligibility, and languages spoken. Equally important is a capacity for capturing data about the patient’s progress in securing these resources, which provides the clinical team with a more complete picture of their patient’s health and our staff with tools to manage Advocates and program fidelity.

The JPB Foundation pushed us to reconceive our long-term goals, resulting in a vision for a new technology infrastructure that would include an integrated community resource database and case management system. The detailed technology plan that emerged from this vision became a powerful asset in securing other technology investors as well, and helped position Health Leads to win a competitive “Force-for-Change” grant from the Salesforce.com Foundation. In addition to providing dollars, the Salesforce.com Foundation gave technical guidance about system design, coached us on the creation of a mobile app that could be used anywhere in the hospital, and connected us with software developers in their ecosystem to execute our vision.

ClientConnect is the technology system that was born from these grants. ClientConnect has been in beta testing for the last several months and preliminary feedback on the new system shows improvements in service delivery and Advocate efficiencies:

  • 96 percent of Advocates are entering intake data into ClientConnect within an hour of intake.
  • Advocates report spending nearly 20 percent more time working with families and researching resources than before the implementation of ClientConnect.
  • Since implementing ClientConnect, average intake time for a patient has been cut by 60 percent—from twenty to eight minutes—allowing Advocates to serve more patients in less time.
  • ClientConnect now includes twice as many community resource listings as it did just three months ago.
  • With ClientConnect’s intuitive, user-friendly interface, Advocates are adhering more uniformly to guidelines for patient follow-up, providing more reliable data to clinicians.
  • The superior database structure and resource mapping taxonomy in ClientConnect is matching patients with resources that more accurately match their needs.

ClientConnect allows us not only to improve our service delivery, it positions us as a critical member of the clinical team. With on-demand analytical reports based on valuable program and patient data, providers can make more effective and dynamic treatment decisions for their patients.

The JPB Foundation and the Salesforce.com Foundation enabled Health Leads to create an asset that is highly valued by our health system partners and the patients they serve. Our partners are on the vanguard of embracing the social determinants of health as a key component in overall health. The fiscal realities in the health care market are incenting them to deploy technology to manage their operations and provide better care for patients.

ClientConnect demonstrates that Health Leads is a like-minded partner making similar investments. The presence of our technology system has been the deciding factor in creating new partnerships with large health systems and building a recurring and sustainable earned revenue stream.

That system would not have been possible without the support of funders like The JPB Foundation and SalesForce.com Foundation, who were willing to invest in the things no one else wants to pay for.


Sarah Di Troia is Chief Operating Officer at Health Leads. You can find Health Leads on Twitter @HealthLeadsNatl.

Nonprofit Challenges, nonprofit sector, role of philanthropy, strategy implementation, technology
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