The controversy over the national health care refuses to die. The State of Arizona’s attempt to cut benefits sparks outrage. Even Americans with insurance are forced into bankruptcy due to medical costs. But meanwhile, in Phoenix, one of the cities hardest hit by the recession, two groups are delivering medical help to those who need it most. Your Neighborhood Healthcare Center and HealthNation are using innovative techniques to cut through the bureaucratic morass of the health care system.
Arizona has frightening statistics re: high rates of infant mortality, HIV, diabetes, and other serious health issues among underserved people (e.g., one in every nine Arizonans has diabetes, and people of color have twice as much chance of being afflicted as whites). Despite the promise of the national health care plan in 2010, some crucial aspects may not go into effect for years.
In 2007, Harry Garewal, a former CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and James Ali, created a model, which has successfully transferred the responsibility and accountability from the bureaucracy of the health care system to the individual. The resulting Your Neighborhood Healthcare Center (3302 W Roosevelt Rd in Phoenix) provides universal coverage to poor residents at an affordable cost.
Your Neighborhood Healthcare Center is right in the heart of the community, a “medical home,” providing diagnosis and treatment, wellness programs in coordination with schools, monitoring of patients’ compliance, an electronic medical record system, and reasonably-priced medication. “We have demonstrated both the needs in the community and an efficient model to meet them,” says Garewal, “Our number of patients has grown from 400 to 1100 per month the past year.” The clinic has had to expand its current home and is looking to open more location.
Scottsdale-based HealthNation is also seeking to enhance the access of all Arizonans to affordable health care by providing families 24/7 medical consultations by phone, Internet, and other electronic methods for only $30/month. Telemedicine has been around for years, but has never achieved widespread use. “We have developed a program, which connects patients to doctors, using webcam, phone or secured email,” says HealthNation Executive Vice President Eric Kronengold,” HealthNation is more than a company. It is a cause.”
Both operations are examples of private entities, not waiting for government solutions, and using innovation to lessen the burden on overwhelmed (and overpriced) emergency rooms, and enhance the wellness of all Arizona residents.