February 24, 2022
(Austin) – The Central Health board of managers voted Wednesday to adopt an Equity-focused Service Delivery Strategic Plan, which will guide the immediate and long-term work of the healthcare district to improve health and reduce inequities for Travis County’s low-income population.
Central Health patients face extreme poverty, higher unemployment, and severe social inequities that prevent them from living healthier. The new strategic plan identifies opportunities for Central Health to continue to expand its reach and strengthen the impact on the health and wellness of Travis County’s most marginalized populations – especially communities of color.
“The board adoption of our Equity-focused Service Delivery Strategic Plan will, near-term and over time, improve the lives of the patients Central Health serves,” Central Health President & CEO Mike Geeslin said. “The effects of this work will be felt for years to come as we now have the framework in place to identify where the most significant gaps in care exist, and what needs to be done to eliminate the inequities that hamper our safety-net health care system. This plan represents a monumental achievement for Central Health, and we are excited to get to work.”
In 2020 the Central Health Board of Managers adopted a strategic priority to improve access to care for people with low income by building an equity-focused, comprehensive, high-functioning, and affordable healthcare system. The Episcopal Health Foundation provided Central Health with a $600,000 grant in June to support the first phase of this work
This funding allowed Central Health to hire Guidehouse, Inc. as a consultant to assist in the developing the service delivery plan, which is based upon three assessments:
- A community health needs assessment (CHNA) focusing on the needs of the Travis County population with annual household incomes less than 200% FPIL ($27,180 for an individual or $55,500 for a family of four);
- An extensive community engagement initiative involving patients, patient-serving advocacy groups and Central Health partners;
- And an analysis of safety-net health care system’s capacity and gaps.
“As a community we can all be proud of this plan,” Dr. Charles Bell, chairperson of the Central Health board of managers said. “For the first time in Central Health’s 18-year history, we have a health needs assessment focusing specifically on the population we serve. And we created a long-range strategic plan that merges robust community input with expert third party consultation from a national leader in this type of work.”
Central Health prioritized community engagement throughout the development of the plan. Through a combination of focus groups, one-on-one interviews, surveys and community conversations, Central Health gathered input from 320 residents. This included patients with experience navigating the safety-net health care system, residents from low-income communities and advocates for hard-to-reach populations such as those experiencing homelessness or formerly incarcerated individuals.
The adopted goal of the plan is to develop an equitable system of care that is comprehensive and accountable, while optimizing the collective use of capabilities and resources to serve residents with low incomes. The plan identifies four strategic imperatives:
- Access and capacity – increasing the number of providers and care teams
- Care coordination – optimizing how patients transition between care settings (e.g. hospital to home)
- Member engagement – enhancing engagement for Central Health Medical Access Program (MAP) enrollees and expanding enrollment in high-need regions
- System of care – joint service-delivery planning and timely sharing of health care data.
Central Health is now preparing to enter the next phase of its equity-based systems planning – developing an implementation plan with financially sustainable operations plan.