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Rochester Medical Community helps underserved population through use of technology

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has defined health equity as the achievement of the utmost level of health for all individuals. This objective necessitates focused endeavors to eradicate disparities in health and healthcare. In this regard, technology has emerged as a crucial instrument in the pursuit of health equity.

Common Ground Health

The organization’s goal is to enhance the attention given to community health concerns through the utilization of data analysis, active involvement of residents, and implementation of effective solutions, facilitated by regional collaboration and partnerships.

Albert Blankley, COO of Common Ground Health,  a health research and planning organization for the nine county Finger Lakes region founded in 1974 previously held the position of Director of Research and Analytics at the non-profit, where he played a pivotal role in revolutionizing the organization’s data and analytics strategy. Specifically, he spearheaded the transition from a conventional quantitative approach to one that integrated healthcare and equitable clinical data with community insights and perspectives.

“We have a ten-year discrepancy in life care expectancy in our region based just upon zip code,” said Blankley, sharing some of the vast wealth of data Common Ground Health has produced for their health equities studies series and other initiatives. “We know that people in our area can achieve happy, healthy lives, but that same access isn’t available to everyone. And, from an economic perspective, these inequities cost our region over a billion dollars a year.”

According to Blankley, the expense stems from a multitude of factors, including superfluous visits to emergency departments and hospitals, decreased productivity due to sickness, and the financial repercussions of untimely mortality.

Blankley emphasizes the significance of capturing the experiences of all individuals and ensuring that all groups receive the benefits of the findings, from a health equity data set perspective.

Ellie Mental Health

Ellie Mental Health was established in 2015 by Erin Pash and Kyle Keller with the aim of destigmatizing mental health treatment. The fundamental principles that guide Ellie’s operations are creativity, compassion, authenticity, acceptance, determination, and humor.

Ellie  is a recent addition to the healthcare sector in Rochester. Its objective is to revolutionize the mental health care culture with empathy by offering innovative remedies that enable wellness to be accessible in all communities.

“In 2016 I had an accident and found myself in a state where I was not myself emotionally,” Carley said. “I found myself sitting in a waiting room and saw the demographics around me — young, old, different cultures, probably different incomes and thought ‘Wow, everyone is affected by mental health.’”
Carley attributes her transformative experience as a significant factor in her decision to establish Ellie Mental Health’s Rochester location. This facility provides therapy services for children, adults, families, and couples through a team of licensed master social workers. Clients have the option to meet with their therapists in person or through telehealth, and they can also communicate with their therapist through a secure online portal.

Carley emphasized the significance of providing clients with access to both in-person and technology-based services to ensure continuity of care. This includes the provision of an online therapy request form to facilitate the initiation of a first appointment.

“Therapy looks different for everybody,”

Rochester Regional Health

Dr. LeKeyah Wilson, M.D. for at Rochester Regional Health (RRH), is where the technology directing impact the community for the better. Wilson holds dual board certification in pediatrics and adolescent medicine and serves in various capacities, including as the medical director of community pediatrics and wellness at RRH. In this role, she plays a significant role in the expansion of the health system’s telehealth services in the Rochester City School District (RCSD).

Wilson is responsible for supervising the five school-based health centers of RRH within the RCSD. These centers are equipped with medical and mental health experts and offer a range of student health services, including scheduled and walk-in appointments for immunizations, mental health assessments, and nutrition education.

RRH offers complimentary TytoCare, a compact, portable digital apparatus equipped with various attachments, such as an otoscope, which enables healthcare professionals to remotely conduct medical examinations with the assistance of patients. With RRH students who are registered in one of the school-based health centers, can use TytoCare for home use.

We are making sure that they have a seat at the table,” said Wilson, about the families of children seen in their school-based health centers. “We’ve heard loud and clear from our community that they want better access to care. They want options, and Rochester Regional has embarked on this in where we’re using TytoCare to improve access.”

The Department of Pediatrics at RRH is presently engaged in a collaborative effort with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester, Jordan Health, several independent pediatric practices, and the RCSD to facilitate the placement of a TytoCare unit in each school within the district.

“I have come to realize that the hours of operation of our clinics do not always meet the needs of our community,” said Wilson, who is hopeful the units will be in place by the end of this academic year. “So how can we improve that relationship, that communication, and that access to service? I think that TytoCare provides a new opportunity.”

RRH’s efforts to promote health equity through technology include the implementation of a Spanish language option in its interactive MyCare Patient Portal. Janene Baase, RN and RRH’s senior director of clinical access, has indicated that this initiative is expected to be completed by Q2 of 2024.

Baase is optimistic that by the conclusion of the current year, the organization will have successfully implemented Epic Clinic to Clinic, thereby mitigating the potential for disjointed healthcare delivery, particularly for susceptible demographics grappling with intricate medical conditions.

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