Sanford launches findhelp website to connect patients to financial aid
SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – When it comes to health care, Sanford Health wants to do more than just take care of physical well-being, which is why they recently launched a website to meet the socio -economics of their patients.
Last month, the health system partnered with findhelp.org to create the Sanford findhelp website. It’s a vision that took nearly three years to come to fruition, according to Director of Nursing Erica DeBoer.
While working with care teams across the region, DeBoer heard managers say they spent a lot of time managing community resources to help patients meet other needs outside of the health system. . So she started trying to better understand what they were going through.
“What were those things that they had to spend a lot of time doing to try to meet the needs of our patients? DeBoer said.
Some of these needs could include food assistance, transportation, financial assistance for medications, preschool assistance, or other social determinants that affect a person’s health. Services offered on the new website are free or discounted and cover options that might not be included with Medicare or Medicaid.
Lindsay Daniels is Executive Director of Care Management System at Sanford and has experience as a field care manager. Daniels said that in one-on-one conversations with patients, she was often confronted with issues the patients were facing that went beyond what she could do for them during their appointment. This site helps care teams meet those needs, she explained.
“Knowing who provides what service when a patient was in front of me and needed to know how they were going to put food on their table at the end of the day, and also knowing that they needed to have some type of diet specific, perhaps, for the type of condition they had or how they were going to pay for their medications as well as the food that arrived at the door.
How it works?
The website is live and can be accessed through this link or through the MyChart app for patients. Once on the site, all you have to do is enter your postal code and select the category that suits you. After that, you will be provided with a list of resources with information on what the organization does, how to contact them, their hours of operation, and a map showing where the resources are in your area.
When a patient visits a clinic, Daniels said he might mention in conversation that he was having trouble paying his bills and that might affect what medications he could afford. In this case, the healthcare team could provide the patient with financial resources on their post-visit summary, direct them to the Find Help site, or make a referral on the patient’s behalf.
“It weighs a bit heavy on the hearts of the staff when they don’t have an answer for the patients,” Daniels said. “So this ability to just refer them to the website that’s printed on their [After Visit Summary] is a great way to do it.
The database includes hundreds of resources for patients and will only grow as it is used, according to DeBoer and Daniels.
Daniels explained that not only can healthcare teams direct patients to resources, but they can send referrals to community agencies with the patient’s consent. This means that if a patient wishes to be connected to a food pantry, for example, the Sanford care team would reach out on behalf of the patient and provide the food pantry with the best way to contact that patient and in the language that ‘he prefers.
“It puts all the stress on us and not the patient to have to log in and follow those referrals,” Daniels said.
DeBoer said the vision behind the website is Sanford’s goal of addressing the social determinants of health and how a person is able to care for themselves.
“COVID has brought to light the fact that we have a lot of people with food, transportation and other insecurities,” DeBoer said. “When you think about how it was exacerbated, it also motivated us even more.”
Looking at the vast expanse of Sanford’s rural footprint and care, DeBoer said not everyone has the same access to resources as those in big cities. The website then helps patients find more accessible resources where they are.
In the past, Sanford care teams have worked to find resources for patients, but DeBoer says this website allows them to better serve patients and gives them the ability to navigate those resources on their own. It also allows teams to provide resources to patients who may be outside of the communities in which they seek care.
As inflation continues to affect everything from gas prices to food and housing, DeBoer says the challenges some patients face may be exacerbated and affect how they maintain good health or take care of their family.
DeBoer added that the partnership between findhelp and Sanford also allows Sanford to address inequities in the community by partnering with existing services that meet patient needs.
“It’s really our opportunity to partner with our communities too.”
Through this partnership, findhelp manages the database for finding and verifying community resources across the Sanford footprint. This means anywhere there is a Sanford or Good Samaritan location.
Now, Daniels says that when a patient shows up for an appointment or contacts the healthcare system with a question, there will be plenty of resources available to help them find the answer that’s best for them.
“We provide world-class healthcare and we want to be able to connect our patients to the people and our partners in our community who also provide this type of care,” Daniels said.