The United Way of North Carolina is embarking on a new program with the state to connect statewide resources for healthcare and human services providers with the resident consumers most in need.
NCCARE360 partners the United Way with North Carolina 2-1-1, The Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation, Unite Us, Expound and the North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services. The system will connect providers, insurers and community organizations to each other and to residents. It also tracks statewide and regional level data on outcomes. The program, which began this year, has already connected more than 15 counties in the state with several others in the process with a goal of serving 100 percent of North Carolina by the end of 2020.
Planning for Chatham’s system is currently underway. Unite Us Community Engagement Manager Megan Lee Carlson will be the point person for the program in Chatham during its development. The goal is to have the system active by December of this year.
NC 2-1-1 Statewide Strategy Director Heather Black discussed the new program at the United Way of Chatham County’s campaign kick-off luncheon and annual meeting last Thursday at Governors Club.
Black said the program was born out of the idea that an individual’s health is more than healthcare. She said the goal of NCCARE360 is to “build a system of health that is focused on the person and helps them access the services and resources they need to be healthy” and “bridge the gap between healthcare and social services.”
On Friday, Dr. Mark McClellan, the founding director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University, spoke about NCCARE360 on WUNC’s “The State of Things.” McClellan noted that the program is a “focus on outcomes rather than procedures.”
“A lot of medical problems are driven by things that aren’t traditional medical costs,” McClellan said, referring specificlaly to access to healthy food and a safe living environment. “There are a lot of social driven things in the environment that affect health. The goal (with NCCARE360) is to spend differently rather than spend more. It’s giving more resources in community systems...and connecting healthcare to them.”
The program connects North Carolina’s 2-1-1 resources for human services with doctors, insurers, and other providers so residents can more easily navigate and access services for issues that affect health — including housing, food stability, interpersonal violence, transportation and employment. The program has already verified more than 1,000 organizations and 3,500 programs statewide that provide services to residents.
Early reports indicate the program has begun to work. In Charlotte, the average amount of time between gathering information on a client to matching them with services to making a referral has shortened by more than 65 percent. NCCARE360 has also been active during Hurricane Dorian, providing residents in active counties with access to information about emergency shelters, food and other needs that may arise as a result of a natural disaster. Black said this was particularly important for residents who do not have the financial ability to prepare for impacts of a storm.
The program is privately funded, though it works in collaboration with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Black said this set-up would allow stability from year-to-year instead of relying on government officials for consistent funding.
Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.