New Multi-Sector Collaboration Around SDOH Aims to Build a Healthier Milwaukee

March 8, 2021
As part of the initiative, a shared digital platform for partner organizations across multiple sectors will be developed to better coordinate care and tackle SDOH needs

A new collaboration with local health systems, community organizations, Impact, the designated provider of 211 information and referral services in Southeastern Wisconsin, and technology company NowPow, will aim to improve health equity and outcomes across Milwaukee.

Founding health system partners of the initiative include Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network, Advocate Aurora Health, Children’s Wisconsin and Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers.

Impact is a private non-profit organization that has served Southeastern Wisconsin for 60 years. The organization works to assess and guide those experiencing personal crisis toward resources to achieve stability, while teaming up with community partners to foster system improvement.

The IMPACT Connect platform, officials assert, will establish a shared digital platform for partner organizations across multiple sectors—including healthcare, food, housing, child welfare, mental health, corrections and others—to work together to better coordinate care and tackle social determinants of health (SDOH) needs.

Officials of the new collaboration point out that public health data show vast, long-standing health disparities in Milwaukee based on ZIP code, income and race. As such, to better address the socioeconomic factors at the root of these disparities, IMPACT Connect partners will leverage NowPow’s personalized community referral platform to identify individuals’ health-related social needs and coordinate “high-quality, highly matched referrals to community resources that can fulfill those needs.”

Drawing on the NowPow integrated platform and IMPACT’s resource database, IMPACT Connect will aim to enable participating healthcare and social service organizations to share, coordinate and track referrals in real-time. The NowPow platform will also help support closed loop communication between healthcare and human service providers to ensure people get connected with the resources they need, as well as track outcomes and impact. Over time, officials believe this data will identify gaps in services, inform community investments and drive IMPACT Connect’s growth, they noted.

“IMPACT Connect will significantly improve care in our community round-the-clock, and will be a vital tool in times of crises such as weather-related emergencies or health pandemics like COVID-19,” John Hyatt, IMPACT president and CEO, said in statement. “This collaborative partnership of agencies makes it possible to connect people to the resources they need—like food, safe housing, transportation and mental health services—early and effectively.”

The effort behind IMPACT Connect was initiated by members of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership, a public-private health consortium dedicated to improving health and healthcare for low-income and vulnerable populations in Milwaukee County. IMPACT Connect will officially start connecting Milwaukeeans to community resources this spring.

“We’re all working together to better assess patients’ total health needs and make community services more accessible and navigable in order to improve health outcomes,” added Joy Tapper, executive director of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership. “This upstream approach to addressing social determinants of health will not only help Milwaukeeans get well, but also stay well—that’s ultimately the goal of population health.”

Rachel Kohler, CEO, NowPow, additionally stated, “We are excited to help IMPACT Connect achieve their vision of truly connected care across the entire community. We know this innovative model of collective social impact will inspire and inform the work of other communities across the nation.”

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