The Center for Care Innovations: An Interview with Jane Stafford

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The Center for Care Innovations (CCI) supports California community health centers that provide care for underserved populations. Offering programs and grants in technology, capacity building, leadership and networking, CCI ensures that community health centers are vital partners in building healthier communities. A joint project of Tides and The California Endowment, CCI launched in 1999 initially as a grant-making program and has since grown into a $113 million program.

Origin Story: Bringing Technology Tools to Community Health Care

Launched in 1999, CCI focused on preparing clinics for the Y2K crisis. Through this effort, CCI found that clinics across California needed additional support to use digital health records. CCI moved to fund both hardware and software installation for clinics across the state to create a comprehensive system for electronic health record adoption. Beyond providing hardware, CCI organized forums for health workers to gain technology expertise and training to build out a new IT backbone for the health community.  To date, CCI has dedicated $53 million for technology building, impacting 91% of the independent clinics in California.

Bridging the Digital Divide:

Currently, CCI is focused on bringing innovation and technology adoption to the community health care sector. Existing mechanisms for outreach and human services that exist in other sectors are not replicated in the health care space. As Jane Stafford, the Managing Director of CCI put it, “You can take you car in to the mechanics, and in six months, they’ll email you for an oil change. This kind of basic follow up hasn’t been replicated in health care. We’re working with companies like Wikipedia and Google, companies from outside the healthcare sector, to come work with clinics to teach them about best business practices on engagement and patient experience.”

Connecting The Dots—Extending Care Beyond the Clinic

Clinics can treat and educate, but they are often unable to address the conditions that lead to ill health. CCI works bring organizations together to address violence prevention, living conditions and access to good nutrition to create a roadmap to healthier people and healthier communities. Stafford adds, “CCI has funded over 60 organizations and worked with 80 partners on a variety of projects that move care beyond clinic walls. We are convening these groups to help them identify and tackle challenges within their own communities and address these together.”

Case in point: When multiple children came to community clinics with lead poisoning in South LA, healthcare clinic workers were able to determine that these children all came from same zip code, and in fact, the same housing project. Once clinic health workers identified the specific buildings that needed to be fixed, they reached out to social and environmental health organizations to ensure that the lead problem in these buildings was removed. This kind of cooperation and communication allows organizations to act in concert and address the most pressing issues for the community together.

Looking Ahead

CCI is taking steps to better prepare clinics for the projected influx of 40 million new entrants into the healthcare system with the 2014 the Affordable Care Act. Community clinics will be a large part of the safety net that will treat both people who will be newly eligible for insurance as well as continuing to treat those who will remain uninsured. Of the new entrants, CCI expects that this population will be primarily uninsured men between the ages of 19-64 who are 133% below the poverty line. The current healthcare system in California is not well equipped to add such a large number of people, and CCI is working to alleviate the potential strain on an already overburdened system.

Working With Tides:

CCI has worked closely with the Tides Center since it launched in 1999. On working with Tides, Stafford says, ““The fiscal sponsor model is beneficial for new and emerging entities, but even for institutional organizations, Tides helps to keep operations and overhead costs extremely low. Tides has taken on our back-office needs, enabling us to focus on mission critical activities.”

For more information on the Center for Care Innovations, visit http://www.careinnovations.org/

To learn more about the Tides Center or Tides Foundation, visit http://www.tides.org/