AHF Announces $2M Innovation Initiative Funding & Establishes New Innovation Fund at The San Diego Foundation
Multicultural Health Foundation — the Prevention Alliance, Community Prevention Coaches
The Multicultural Health Foundation is the recipient of $1 million of Innovation Initiative (i2) funding to establish the Prevention Alliance. The Prevention Alliance will use this funding to establish and convene the first coalition of ethnic organizations to secure and share sustainable funding and infrastructure for preventative health services. Funding will be used to bring prevention services to infuse capital into multicultural, immigrant and refugee communities’ prevention care. Alliance Healthcare Foundation’s funding will support creating the Prevention Alliance’s infrastructure to further launch prevention programs in communities that historically have not accessed maintainable prevention services.
The Prevention Alliance is pioneering a novel sustainable economic model that enables a number of multicultural community-based organizations to deliver proven prevention services paid through a new medical reimbursement income stream. The Prevention Alliance’s initial focus will be on establishing a model for diabetes prevention. Within five years, a workforce of 350 diabetes prevention coaches — sourced from the communities that join the Prevention Alliance — will bring prevention services to 8,500 residents. The Prevention Alliance will infuse capital into resource-poor but proven-effective multicultural communities’ prevention care services.
The health system needs this solution to solve an old problem in a new way. Community-based organizations exhibit the ability to lower chronic diseases but are without the capacity to bill for it. The Prevention Alliance solves this problem. Members of the Prevention Alliance will be able to share a billing and claims system to contract with insurance companies and gain market share for sustainable funding. For the first time ever in San Diego County, community-based nonprofits will be able to access a new funding stream from Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurances directly to bring the much-needed prevention services that improve health outcomes while reducing health disparities.
The Prevention Alliance comprises a team of organizations, including:
- Solera Health, an integrated benefits network that connects patients, payers and physicians to non-medical providers.
- The Skinny Gene Project, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fully recognized Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program supplier.
- Twelve or more additional multicultural organizations that will organize themselves in support of diabetes prevention coaches serving the prediabetic community.
Insurance plans including Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance providers fund Diabetes Prevention Provider Program coaches. Alliance Healthcare Foundation funding will support creating the infrastructure to further launch the planned programs in communities that historically have not accessed these services.
“The mission of the Multicultural Health Foundation’s Prevention Alliance aligns with our mission,” noted Elizabeth Dreicer, AHF Interim Executive Director. “The Prevention Alliance’s focus on creating a sustainable economic social enterprise model to support ongoing, long-term prevention efforts within the San Diego and Imperial County ethnic, immigrant and refugee communities is important to our vision of closing the health equity gap. We anticipate this will result in long-term positive impact in the communities they serve. Further, as AHF understands that we cannot spend more as a ratio of our overall GDP [gross domestic product] on healthcare, this project supports our aim to improve quality and improve access while reducing overall costs.”
Broadly, the Prevention Alliance coalition will focus on four project areas: 1) economic empowerment; 2) system level change; 3) workforce development, and 4) policy and environmental level change. In each of these areas, the Prevention Alliance has identified targeted improvement goals with a five-year timeline for reaching those goals.
“Our innovation is the economic empowerment of community-based organizations who are on the front lines for reducing chronic diseases,” observed Nataché Muschette, Executive Director of the Multicultural Health Foundation. “With the Prevention Alliance we will introduce the business of healthcare to charity-based organizations to demonstrate the economic value of redirecting revenue from insurance companies into the medically underserved ethnic communities, who need it the most. While Medicare, Medicaid and commercial health insurance plans have the money to fund prevention services, they lack distribution channels into high-risk, high-cost ethnic communities where the greatest reduction in chronic disease and health disparities can be realized. We understand how to serve this historically hard-to-reach population.”
Rodney Hood, MD, is the founder and initial funder of the Multicultural Health Foundation and serves as the foundation’s current board chair. Dr. Hood has practiced medicine in San Diego for more than 30 years and has long been involved in the health and wellness of the local multicultural community as a physician treating individual patients and as a community leader serving on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations supporting communities in need. Dr. Hood also serves as a trustee of Alliance Healthcare Foundation. (Dr. Hood did not participate in the Alliance Healthcare Foundation selection or voting process for this award.)
Somali Family Service — Refugee Vaccination Education
AHF also announces Somali Family Service of San Diego (SFS) as the recipient of a $1 million Innovation Initiative (i2) award. The first phase of this grant is unique as it focuses on implementation of virtual reality (VR) to improve vaccination rates among East African and refugee residents living in San Diego County.
The Somali Health Initiative for Access to Care (SHIFA-Care Project) is an initiative of SFS in partnership with Sanjeev Bhavnani, MD, a cardiologist at Scripps Clinic specializing in digital health innovation for patient care and in clinical trials. This initiative makes use of VR as an enhanced, culturally tuned health education tool in support of improving vaccination rates among East African and refugee residents.
“AHF developed the Innovation Initiative in 2010 to advance its mission to improve the health and wellness of the nearly 1.3 million people estimated to live in poverty in San Diego and Imperial counties,” said Joe Ramsdell, MD, AHF interim board chair. “We do this through venture philanthropy support of transformational thinking, people and organizations. Through this particular award, AHF is aiming to improve the health of San Diego’s East African and refugee residents by providing high-quality educational content delivered through VR in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.”
Through the SHIFA-Care Initiative’s use of virtual reality education, Somali Family Service, a fiscal sponsor for eight different East African and refugee organizations, has the potential to make a significant impact across San Diego County. In the case of vaccinations, the costs associated with not vaccinating are significant. Preventable emergency room visits for pertussis and measles can drive up healthcare costs in the region and cost parents thousands of dollars during periods of illness. By improving parental awareness of the importance of vaccines, new virtual reality educational tools can improve the community’s ability to monitor pediatric health and reduce healthcare costs for everyone in San Diego.
“Immunization rates of local East African and refugee residents are well below the national average due to the lack of cultural and linguistic sensitivities in regional health systems and because of unsubstantiated fears that immunization may cause autism,” explained Ahmed Sahid, President and CEO of Somali Family Service. “This has led to outbreaks of measles, mumps and pertussis that could have easily been avoided. Our SHIFA-Care Project is designed to remove cultural barriers and help individuals and families make better decisions to improve the overall health of the community. In partnership with Alliance Healthcare Foundation, we hope to model this innovative project here in San Diego, and then share it with other communities in the future.”
The application of VR in this effort represents a significant innovative approach to addressing education in support of vaccination. “Virtual reality provides an immersive experience that, when coupled with excellent educational content, enables a more lasting experiential understanding. It’s the difference between watching something on TV or living and experiencing it,” Dreicer noted. “VR is an active, rather than passive, experience resulting in enhanced comprehension and retention.”
To transform healthcare with new technologies, Dr. Bhavnani said that “four key criteria must be met and employed simultaneously to maximize quality and to ensure effectiveness. These include: 1) using technologies that are ‘flexible’ and can be customized with cultural, linguistic and religious sensitivities to overcome low health literacies; 2) deploying any new intervention with a community-based participatory model that uses input from various community members in each step from project design to implementation, and to ensure that what is developed is a resource that can be trusted; 3) driving high cost-effectiveness resulting from low technology development costs and high rate of financial return, and 4) demonstrating outcomes that are important to individuals, the community and for public health.”
“We look forward to partnering with Somali Family Service as they roll out this innovative service in the community,” said Dr. Ramsdell. “This is a strong organization with a long history of providing invaluable service to the East African and refugee residents in San Diego. Building on Somali Family Service’s foundation of community trust and cultural understanding coupled with the medical and technical expertise of Scripps, we believe this project will pave the way for further advancements in health education and make a real impact on the health of the local East African and refugee residents. We know that getting acclimated in a new country can be a daunting process, and the health of new arrivals can suffer if they don’t know where to turn for help. SFS does a tremendous job of helping people get acclimated, and soon they will have a significant tool at their disposal for helping improve the health of local refugees and the community at large.”
Overall, Dreicer noted, “Through i2, AHF seeks to alter the status quo by funding innovation designed to enhance the lives of those people most in need in the community. We believe that owing to the already large ratio of dollars that flow into healthcare, we must innovate to reduce the overall cost to our system while improving quality and increasing access.”
AHF Establishes New Innovation Fund at The San Diego Foundation
Alliance Healthcare Foundation has placed an initial $2 million with The San Diego Foundation (TSDF) in recognition that seeding and scaling innovation requires a more robust partnership of funders.
To start, two funds have been opened with the first focused on AHF’s Innovation Initiative (i2) and the next on AHF’s InvestUp Futures Fund. Each has been seeded by AHF with $1 million for a total of $2 million.
AHF has an established eight-year track record of finding, funding (over $12 million to date) and nurturing scalable social enterprise innovations through its Innovation Initiative (i2) program. For example, AHF funded Text4Baby through Champions for Health (formerly the San Diego Medical Society Foundation) — targeting text-based micro education to at-risk moms and their unborn babies (subsequently extended through childhood) — now among the largest mobile health apps in the nation and owned by Wellpass (following merger of Voxiva and Sense Health). Other AHF i2 investments include 211’s Community Information Exchange (CIE); Interfaith Community Service’s Recovery and Wellness Center; UCSD’s (University of California San Diego) Wireless Observed Therapy led by University of California San Diego’s Wireless Observed Therapy Project, led by Dr. Sara Browne (with Proteus as the technology partner); and Solutions For Change’s Solutions Farms.
Now, owing to this relationship, other foundations, philanthropists, businesses and individuals interested in supporting social innovation can participate through the Alliance Innovation Fund. While the innovations start locally, many have demonstrated impact and scale beyond San Diego and Imperial counties, and consequently the fund is expected to attract interest from large, small, regional, national, international, private and corporate foundations and from impact investors both within and outside the region.
Much of the focus of the Alliance Innovation Fund will be on funding selected social enterprise ventures, specifically early-stage health and wellness innovation — of benefit to the most vulnerable — under development by local agencies, social enterprise businesses, academia, nonprofits and community-based organizations. AHF typically provides initial innovation grants up to $1 million. AHF also provides loans and can make equity investments through its complementary Program Related Investments (PRI) program.
“The focus of Alliance Healthcare Foundation on the wellness of the most vulnerable deeply resonates with the mission of The San Diego Foundation,” said The San Diego Foundation Interim CEO and President Connie Matsui. “We congratulate AHF on the success of the innovation initiative and look forward to its impact on improving quality of life for the San Diego community.”
”We envision our collaboration as a model for community-based organizations to strengthen their community impact, make more effective and efficient use of community resources,” noted Dr. Ramsdell.
“We believe in the power of collective action,” said Dreicer, “and we are hopeful that our example will inspire others to join us. Our staff and board team works ardently in support of advancing the health and wellness for those in need in our region [San Diego and Imperial counties] and recognizes that the time has come to make it possible for others to join us in service of the approximately 1.3 million souls that live in our region that can benefit from our collaboration.”
With the relationship now in effect, AHF is mobilizing to initiate near-term impact and looks forward to welcoming other foundations (large, small, regional, national, international, private and corporate) and impact investors inside and outside the region. To learn more, visit us here.
About Alliance Healthcare Foundation. We work to advance health and wellness for the most vulnerable in San Diego and Imperial counties. We accomplish this work through collaborative funding, convening and advocacy. We currently operate a portfolio of five programs: i2 is our innovation initiative, also referred to as “venture philanthropy”—based on the thesis that innovation capital (often high risk, high reward) is needed to transform the current paradigm (high cost and poor outcomes) and improve quality, increase capacity and reduce costs; Mission Support—based on the belief that trusting those closest to our constituents and providing core operating support for great organizations will best advance our mission; Responsive Funding—based on the belief that it is important to be responsive to time-sensitive community needs and opportunities; InvestUp—based on the belief that it is important to actively and strategically be looking for ways to meaningfully advance our mission and it is worth spending some or all of our corpus—beyond the earnings off of our endowment—if we can substantively, sustainably and positively change the dynamics; and Program-Related Investments, also referred to as “impact investments,” based on the thesis that we can activate our investment portfolio to achieve more positive impact. More: www.alliancehf.org
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