Think about the last time you went for a doctor’s appointment. How did you get there? You likely hopped into your car or took a seat on public transportation, traveled 20 minutes (if you’re lucky to be that close) to a facility outside of your neighborhood, and sat in some sterile building and waited your turn. Maybe you wound up waiting longer than you could truly afford, especially if you took the time off work, had children in tow, or young kids on their way home from school. Imagine, instead, if health care came to you…traveled so you didn’t need to. Would that provide a better patient experience?
There are many approaches to delivering better patient care. Mobile health clinics provide a particularly innovative one.
To learn more about the unique value mobile health clinics bring to communities, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Diversity and Inclusion Council is embarking on a three-city Mobile Health Tour in the days leading up to the 15th Annual International Summit on Improving Patient Care in the Office Practice and the Community
There are now some 2,000 mobile health clinics around the US and they’re working hard to deliver the right care, at the right time, to the right community – often at no cost to the patient. The impact on access is fairly clear, but as a published study in Health Affairs recently showed, mobile health clinics are also starting to demonstrate they can improve health outcomes and reduce costs for health care overall, by reaching out to underserved communities. There are a lot of factors likely driving this. Mobile health clinics build relationships in communities and work in partnership with patients to achieve better health. They provide a variety of services (think anything from preventive health screenings and behavioral health counseling to a full medical home for primary care) with traditional resources. They add value by providing services with a better understanding of the context in which they operate. Patients get to know providers (including MDs, RNs, NPs) more capable of understanding their full picture of health. The benefit of delivering care with a true sense of empathy cannot be overstated. Mobile clinics minimize the physical and perceived distance between patient and provider that exists in a traditional care settings.
The road to better care will be best traveled through collaborations like this within our communities. This tour seeks to shine a light on one piece of the future path.
Join us on March 6 in Boston, March 7 in New York City, and March 8 in Washington DC. Stories and updates will be posted from the road or stay to the IHI blogs. You can also stay connected through Twitter and Facebook pages to learn more about the impact mobile health clinics are having and to follow the tour.