glma board white house briefing

Wilson-Stronks at the White House

Posted by Amy Wilson-Stronks

On July 24, 2014, Amy Wilson-Stronks, on behalf of Wilson-Stronks LLC and GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, was invited to and attended a special White House Briefing on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the LGBT Community, sponsored by the Office of Public Engagement. LGBT health advocates from across the country were engaged through presentations and panel discussions from grassroots policy and advocacy organizations working to support LGBT enrollment under the ACA.

Briefing highlights included the release of Out2Enroll’s Key Lessons for LGBT Outreach and Enrollment under the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s proclamation declaring Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, And Transgender Pride Month, 2014.

“It was incredible to see so many people come together to discuss solutions to healthcare access. LGBT people suffer disproportionately in access to quality healthcare, and that is why having targeted interventions to communicate, educate, and support the LGBT community during the rollout of the ACA is so important. Kudos to the White House, Out2Enroll, and all of the stakeholders for supporting access. Wilson-Stronks will work to do our part to share this valuable information.”—Amy Wilson-Stronks

As much as this briefing celebrated success, it also recognized some of the ongoing challenges including spread of misinformation outside of the ACA marketplace, lack of public understanding of the differences between the ACA and private marketplaces implementing the law within faith-based institutions (such as Hobby Lobby), access to specialized care for the transgender community, states that have not expanded Medicaid, and states without state exchange programs. Important questions were also raised regarding the limited choice of providers and the expansiveness of the network of providers for consumers enrolled in the marketplace.

Pictured (left to right from top row) GLMA Board members: Sarah Fogel, Henry Ng, Travis Sherer, Amy Wilson-Stronks, Adam Crosland, Hector Vargas (Executive Director), Ed Craft, Jesse Joad, and Laura Hein.

Improving Healthcare into the Future: The Wilson-Stronks Internship Program

Posted by Amy Wilson-Stronks

2014 was exciting for Wilson-Stronks as we launched what is proving to be a very successful internship program.  We have been so fortunate to have the interest of very talented, bright, and dedicated individuals to serve as research assistants through our internship program.  Alas, the success is bittersweet as our first intern heads back to school this fall, we welcome our newest intern who will be gearing up during her time at Wilson-Stronks to become the Doctor of the Future.  Read on below…

Katie Singer has worked with Wilson-Stronks since June 2014.  She became interested in the position because it provided a solid comprehensive experience that incorporated learning about health care, advocacy, consulting, and research.  Also, considering that health care is a “hot topic,” Katie knew that working with Wilson-Stronks would be a great opportunity to learn more about the healthcare system and its inner workings.  Additionally, she knew this would satisfy her interest in different cultures, different styles of life, and improving equality.

While working at Wilson-Stronks, Katie has had many note-worthy experiences: attending chamber events, developing a social media platform, and researching language access and faith-based healthcare information.  She most enjoys being able to see the multi-faceted process of this business.  Every part of this business, from the advocacy to the research, has provided her with an impressionable experience that she will be able to use for her future endeavors.

Katie appreciates working with and learning from Amy and Deborah because they provide a great perspective from their experiences with health care and advocacy.  Working at Wilson-Stronks has improved her outlook on healthcare quality, cultural competence and equity.

This fall Katie is returning to Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin as a part of the class of 2017.  We are going to miss her, and we hope she comes back during her breaks to help us improve healthcare!

Wilson-Stronks is excited to welcome the newest member of our team, Kayana Marks!

At the age of two, Kayana decided she wanted to be a doctor. Although she does not yet know what field of medicine she would like to work, she is passionate about caring for others.

Kayana is excited to be a part of the Wilson-Stronks team and learn more about the relationships that exist between patient care and the business side of healthcare. In her past experiences in the healthcare field, Kayana learned that many employees in doctor’s offices do not witness the healthcare side of their business, creating a lack of understanding between the employees and patients. After observing this disparity, she became interested in strengthening the connection between patients and healthcare providers. Similarly, she is interested in using advocacy and consulting as tools to bring awareness of healthcare issues to communities and companies, ultimately decreasing existing inconsistencies in information and knowledge.

Kayana intends to utilize her experience at Wilson-Stronks to better understand the entirety of healthcare in order to better serve her future patients.

Kayana Marks is a 2014 Graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. She plans to attend medical school in the fall of 2015.

Please join us in welcoming Kayana! She can be reached at kayana@wilson-stronks.com.

Population Health and Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Healthcare

Posted by Deborah Caputo Rosen

We have been thinking about population health at Wilson-Stronks LLC. Soto notes, “(M)any see attention to population health as a potent opportunity for health care delivery systems, public health agencies, community-based organizations and many other entities to work together to improve health outcomes in the communities they serve.” (1)

Although there are a variety of definitions of population health they share some common themes. Population health has a wider scope than traditional public health because it explicitly includes the health care delivery system itself, and its accountabilities. Not only are health outcomes measured but also the factors that influence them—social determinants of health and disease prevention efforts. A population health management focus includes the active reduction of health disparities and the pursuit of health equity.

Health care administrators have taken a renewed interest in health promotion and disease prevention. One of the drivers for this has been the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Regardless of your political opinion of “Obamacare”, the law creates structure that motivates healthcare organizations and realigns their interests. Increasing insurance coverage increases access; especially for populations traditionally disadvantaged from preventative services, screening and the resultant early case-finding and improved outcomes (with associated lower healthcare and societal costs).

CMS and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, among others, plan to track and study patient results as a research-based means to improve quality. The ACA includes a variety of approaches to increase both the quantity and quality of primary and preventive care, including the development and funding structures of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

A new IRS requirement under the ACA mandates health care organizations and public health systems to engage in community health needs assessment every three years. Communities, including their health needs and health resources, must be described along with a prioritized implementation strategy to meet those needs. Both health outcomes and accountability measures are required.

One size does not fit all” is the lens through which Wilson-Stronks always has advocated and offered services. The new reality of the world of health care provision requires that the population eligible to be served must be identified, its needs and current resources characterized, and the interventions individualized to meet those needs. This offers renewed opportunity to consider culturally-responsive and linguistically effective communication in the design and delivery of care.

Finally, target outcomes must be identified, risk-adjusted metrics developed and mutually accepted and information must be sharable to promote evidence-based promising practices. In the highly competitive and diminishing margins of health care provision, patients and providers alike will benefit when, to quote Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat.

1. Soto MA, “Population Health in the Affordable Care Era”. Academy Health, 2013, pp.2-6

Advocating for Change: Improving Healthcare

Posted by Amy Wilson-Stronks

I am fortunate to have a very wide, robust, multi-disciplinary, diverse network of colleagues and friends with expertise in many areas related directly and indirectly to healthcare. I have had many conversations with my network about our healthcare system, and unashamedly, I find myself frustrated with how healthcare is delivered. I am stunned at the lack of sincere focus on the patient.

Sure, “patient engagement,” “population health,” “patient experience,” and “patient satisfaction” cover the pages of healthcare trade publications. But as I work with healthcare organizations, I see that sincere attention to the needs, beliefs, and expectations of the patients, families, and communities receiving care is relatively rare.

I know that there are many reasons for the lack of awareness, and but the issue does not exist because healthcare providers don’t care about their patients. However, competing priorities, the complexity of payment systems, staffing challenges, and the burden of documentation and electronic record systems limits the time that direct care staff and clinicians have to communicate effectively with patients and family members in order to sincerely understand the patient.

Historically, Wilson-Stronks has engaged clients by collaborating with healthcare organizations to help them create systems that support effective patient-provider communication and understanding. Unfortunately, effective communication is an area of quality and safety improvement and risk reduction that is not always viewed as a priority. We are left to wonder, “Well then, WHAT? What CAN we do to improve healthcare?”

A conversation last summer finally made things click. Ilene Corina, a grass-roots patient safety advocate and trainer, responded to my laments regarding patient provider-communication with this comment,

“That’s why I work with patients. (Decision-makers) don’t really know what is happening at the bedside. They sit behind their desks and hold meetings. And when they are on the units, it’s a show in their honor; unlikely the day-to-day reality faced by most direct care staff, clinicians, and patients.”

Ilene helped me (finally) understand how Wilson-Stronks can have a more meaningful impact: Working to empower the people who are at the patient’s bedside–the family caregiver; the healthcare proxy; the support person. I don’t know why it took me so long to get it, but my conversations with Ilene inspire our launch of the Wilson-Stronks Improving Healthcare Advocacy Program: Putting Patients in Patient Safety.

Many people who read this blog may have had personal experiences that made them aware of the gaps in the healthcare system. Some people may know about the gaps from the experiences of a friend or family member. Others may be familiar with issues because they are among the direct care staff trying to find the time and resources to sincerely understand their patients. Many of you have shared your stories with me, as I have shared my own.

But FINALLY I get it, and now Wilson-Stronks is ready to act: the only way to really improve healthcare is by taking our care into our own hands and educating and empowering those around us who have less medical and health literacy than we do.

I hope I can share some great success stories with you soon. Please know that the power of your stories can have a positive influence, and I thank you all for sharing to help the rest of us better understand what it is like to be in the hospital gown and sitting at the bedside of our loved one.

Putting Patients in Patient Safety

Wilson-Stronks is readying to launch our patient advocacy program “Putting Patients in Patient Safety” this fall. Prepare yourself to be smart about healthcare! Join us and our special guest Ilene Corina (PULSE of New York) to learn from a national expert and ensure you and your family receive high quality healthcare! For more information email info@wilson-Stronks.com.

Happy Coming Out Day

Today marks the 25th anniversary of national coming out day. This year’s theme is “Coming Out still Matters” recognizing the importance of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or as an ally to promote positive change. The Human Rights Campaign recognizes that when an individual knows someone is LGBT they are more likely to support equality laws.

On this National Coming Out Day, I’m encouraging everyone who can come out to do just like that- come out at work. It’s only by talking with our coworkers about the truth of our lives- that people like us can be fired just for being who we are – that we can get laws passed that will protect us on the job. -Kylar W. Broadus, Senior Public Policy Counsel, Trans Civil Rights Project, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Open enrollment: Getting everyone on board.

Open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace begins October 1st, enabling many Americans to purchase health insurance for the first time. It is estimated that 48 million Americans are without insurance, and it is estimated that about seven million people will purchase insurance through the marketplace.

But what about the hard to reach populations? While more Americans will now be able to purchase insurance, it is going to be very important to reach out to some of these “challenging” populations in the coming months to ensure that these populations are educated about their insurance options and have the resources to enroll in the health plan that is right for them.

Amy Wilson-Stronks recently attended a White House briefing on the Affordable Care Act and the LGBT community and was able to learn about targeted efforts to communicate with the LGBT community about open enrollment and new rights under the ACA, including banning discrimination of withholding healthcare services based on gender. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/view/

Resources to share with the LGBT community:

A new website that will be providing educational resources for the LGBT community over the coming months: http://out2enroll.org/

Tressa Undem’s presentation on communicating to the LGBT community about open enrollment:
Video footage of Secretary Sebelius at the White House briefing : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG5RoWm2rSE

Individuals who speak English as a second language pose another set of challenges for ensuring healthcare access. Many legal residents will become eligible to purchase health insurance for the first time: http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/article/20130921/NEWS01/309220009?nclick_check=1#!

As healthcare providers, public health workers, and advocates for all types of individuals, it is our responsibility to spread the word. Open enrollment begins October 1st: www.healthcare.gov

White House Briefing on Obamacare and the LGBT Community

This Thursday, September 12th, Amy Wilson-Stronks along with other LGBT advocates have been invited to attend a White House briefing on Obamacare and impacts on the LGBT community. The briefing will discuss particular needs that members of the LGBT community face, including limited access to health care, insurance, and preventive care, and how the Affordable Care Act is addressing these needs.

According to the the invite, the briefing aims to provide LGBT advocates with information and resources to help their communities access more affordable health care. When the individual mandate goes into effect and health care exchange enrollment begins, it is especially important that members and leaders of the LGBT community are aware of protections in place, including the prohibition of discrimination for pre-existing medical conditions and gender-based discrimination.

The event will feature Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services as the keynote speaker. New research will be presented on how LGBT communities perceive and access health care, and suggested messaging strategies for reaching key sub-communities, followed by a panel discussion of best practices by community organizations, and breakout sessions to connect local leaders and plan regional enrollment events across the country.

Wilson-Stronks is interested to hear your opinions, comments, and questions about this event and how the Affordable Care Act will affect members of the LGBT community. Please email info@Wilson-Stronks.com or leave comments on our Facebook page and we will post as many questions with answers as we can. Wilson-Stronks is proud to be able to offer you up-to-date information during these changing healthcare times.

Update: Video footage of remarks by Secretary Sebelius and Valerie Jarrett at the White House Briefing on the Affordable Care Act and the LGBT Community: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG5RoWm2rSE

The Plight of Limited English Speakers: Role Reversal

Fluency, Inc., the sister company of Language World Services, Inc. recently released one of the most hard-hitting, powerful short films Wilson-Stronks has seen demonstrating what it is like for limited English speakers to try to receive health care in the United States.

Please watch this and share it with others you know working in the health care field.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEfrsSqZ-9s&feature=plcp&context=C466ed30VDvjVQa1PpcFPQXFVh0qAqT6EZ845_XnkTbzvgO6V4Pps