October 6, 2017

How Google's parent company aims to shake up care for low-income patients

Daily Briefing

    Sidewalk Labs—an urban innovation organization held under Google parent company Alphabet–has launched a new health care startup to provide affordable preventive health care to low-income individuals.

    The startup, called Cityblock, was conceived by Iyah Romm, the former entrepreneur-in-residence at Sidewalk. The startup aims to provide Medicaid and lower-income Medicare beneficiaries in urban neighborhoods with a "personalized care team," new technology tools, and a "designated community health partner" who will help beneficiaries navigate the health care system.

    According to Cityblock's website, those services will come at no additional cost to eligible members who have health coverage.

    In a Medium article announcing the company, Romm wrote, "Cityblock will partner with community-based organizations, health plans, and provider organizations to reconfigure the delivery of health and social services."

    As part of that effort, the company will establish "neighborhood health hubs" where caregivers, Cityblock members, and local organizations can come together to address factors in the communities that affect health, Romm wrote. The first such hub is expected to open in New York City next year.

    "It is imperative that we fundamentally overhaul the system and redouble our efforts to design, test, and deploy impactful care delivery models and digital products," Romm wrote, adding that to date, "nearly all innovation efforts have been focused on people with means" and overlooked those in lower-income neighborhoods (Farr, CNBC, 10/2; Baker, "Vitals," Axios, 10/4; Romm, Medium, 10/1; Cityblock website, accessed 10/5).

    From healthy food access to stable housing: The case for collaboration with community partners

    Population health leaders know that health care delivery is incomplete without addressing the social determinants of health. But effective patient management cannot only include tasking care teams with addressing patients' social needs on top of their complex clinical needs.

    Instead, providers should also partner with community-based organizations already providing quality non-clinical support for a range of needs, from healthy food access to stable housing, to scale patient management beyond traditional care settings.

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