Health Information Technology Award to Fort Wayne Area Collaboration

Friday, 08 March 2013

Health Information Technology Award from the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved Awarded on March 7 to Fort Wayne Area Collaboration

The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved awarded to the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation together with its key partners, Parkview Health Systems and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health their Health Information Technology Award. The Award to was presented to Project Connect staff and partners at their conference March 7 in Poughkeepsie, NY for an outstanding project in the Community Agency category. Project Connect innovatively uses videoconferencing, phone and fax to provide medical interpretation and health navigation for area medical providers and their Burmese patients.

Project Connect and this Fort Wayne collaboration were selected in the Community Agency category for their commitment to underserved patients and their use of technology to enhance service in the following areas:
• Outreach to hard-to-reach populations
• Cost saving technology which improves the health care team’s ability to provide services to disparate communities
• Care coordination programs
• Use of HIE (Health Information Exchange) to improve the quality of care, access to care
• Patient experience of care
• Consideration of language, culture and literacy to reach underserved communities

Project Connect uses a central office location at the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation staffed with highly trained medical interpreters. The interpreters use “Vsee” a HIPAA-secured video conferencing technology along with phone and fax to provide culturally sensitive virtual medical interpretation and navigation services to the Parkview Health System, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health, Neighborhood Health Clinic, Fort Wayne Medical Education Program, Healthier Moms & Babies, and Aids Task Force. In the first 24 months of operation the program has provided 14,882 service calls for 1,701 distinct non-English speaking Burmese clients.

Project Connect is operated as a non-profit cost share model supported by the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, Parkview Hospital, Auer Foundation, Kuhne Foundation, and the Indiana State Department of Health.

According to Meg Distler, Executive Director of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, which serves as the fiscal agent and program sponsor, “We welcomed Project Connect as an opportunity to collaborate with great partners who embrace and share a common mission of helping everyone in the community access quality health care and attain wellness. This program also embraces the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation’s Christian values of attentive listening and courageously responding in new ways as needed to respect the dignity of every individual in our community.”

Connie Kerrigan RN, BSN, Parkview’s Manager of Community Nursing and Women's Health, elaborated by stating that, “It is rewarding to see how our community can benefit through proactive partnerships that share the common vision of a healthier community. This project is a true example of how partnerships and innovation can improve health. “

In 2012, the Indiana Perinatal Network also recognized both Parkview and St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Project Connect for Innovative Use of Communication Strategies to Improve the Health of Moms & Babies in northeast Indiana.