As COVID-19 continues to disrupt millions of lives across the country, the weight of its impact is being felt the hardest on the underserved members of our society, the 27.5 million uninsured and 72.4 million individuals on Medicaid. Chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease are more prevalent among underserved populations putting them at higher risk for serious complications from coronavirus. Safety Net Providers are the front lines of COVID-19 response, with Community Health Centers (CHCs) serving over 29 million underserved patients in more than 12,000 urban and rural communities and Free and Charitable Clinics caring for an additional 2 million patients across 1,400 facilities.
As The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), the leading national advocacy group for community-based health centers, works tirelessly to support health centers in securing emergency funding and essential medical supplies to continue operating and providing essential healthcare services to their communities, it has also recognized the unique benefits of telehealth during this time. In particular, NACHC has encouraged usage of mobile messaging solutions with texting being the most effective and lowest cost communication channel to reach lower income and less educated populations at scale. Similarly, the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) has endorsed the importance of regular communication through texting from clinics to keep patients and staff informed of key COVID-19 developments.
Sample Messages from Public CareMessage COVID-19 Library
To support health centers in combating coronavirus, NACHC and NAFC have partnered with non-profit technology organization, CareMessage, a mobile messaging solution designed especially for safety net providers. Due to the growing need across the country, CareMessage is offering CMLight, a COVID-19 communication tool for patients and staff, at no cost to Safety Net Providers for at least 60 days during the course of the virus outbreak. The need to quickly disseminate information to entire patient populations has skyrocketed, and the CareMessage team responded to customer needs by partnering with them to create patient and staff messages that supplement their ongoing efforts. They have made their messaging library publicly available for free, which includes information about hand washing, asking patients to call before coming in if they are experiencing symptoms, medication refill reminders, information on telemedicine availability, and additional information for high-risk patients.
As the largest non-profit patient engagement organization in the United States focused solely on underserved populations, CareMessage has supported its CHC, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and Free Clinic customers in sending over 3.2 million COVID-19 related messages to date, on topics ranging from prevention, patient education, food distribution, clinic announcements and more.
Patients Messaged via CareMessage by State as of March 27, 2020
“CareMessage provides a resource for health centers to reach their patients via texting during this time when everyone is asking to stay isolated as much as possible,” says Jason Patnosh, Associate VP of Partnership and Resource Development at NACHC. “This service, and the opportunity to engage in a simplified platform, will allow more health centers to engage with their patients. The health center movement continues to adapt to changing situations, and will always be ready to innovate on how they reach their patients.”
“We are so thankful for our continued partnership with CareMessage, especially during this pandemic during which social distancing is so important,” says Nicole Lamoureux, NAFC President and CEO. “Having the ability to keep the lines of communication open with our patients through technology like the CareMessage platform is crucial to making sure communities throughout the country have continued access to the care they need.”
“Cecilia and I co-founded CareMessage with the explicit and exclusive purpose of serving the most vulnerable patients. That need is no more acute than right at this moment,” says Vineet Singal, Co-Founder and CEO of CareMessage. “As the largest patient engagement platform for the underserved nationally, we are honored to partner with NACHC and NAFC, and lead the way in supporting as many safety-net organizations nationwide that need to communicate critical health information with their patients.”
Through CareMessage’s free messaging platform offering and the extensive combined national reach of NACHC, NAFC and CareMessage, these three healthcare non-profits strive to make a significant positive impact together in supporting the Safety Net Provider ecosystem as they continue to care for the most vulnerable patients during COVID-19.
Founded in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the national health care advocacy organization for America’s medically underserved and uninsured and the community health centers that serve as their health care home. NACHC works in conjunction with state and regional primary care associations, health center controlled networks and other public and private sector organizations to expand health care access to all in need.
The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) is the only non-profit 501c(3) organization whose mission is solely focused on the issues and needs of the medically underserved throughout the nation and the more than 1,400 Free and Charitable Clinics and Pharmacies that serve them. Founded in 2001 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., the NAFC is working to ensure that the medically underserved have access to affordable quality health care and strives to be a national voice promoting quality health care for all.
CareMessage is a mobile technology 501c3 non-profit and the largest patient engagement organization in the United States focused solely on the underserved. Having reached more than 30 million underserved patients, CareMessage offers a unique mobile messaging technology that empowers safety net providers to improve health outcomes and reduce the cost of care for vulnerable populations. Our robust platform enables health centers to use mobile messaging to remind patients of upcoming appointments, fill gaps in care, provide education and allow one-to-one provider-to-patient communications. We operate under the guiding principle that everyone should have access to quality healthcare, regardless of their ability to pay, where they live, and the language they speak.