Pioneer Valley Receives Grant to Pursue Healthcare Access Solutions

SPRINGFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) announced that it, in partnership with the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA), has been selected as one of seven regions in the country by the National Center for Mobility Management to develop and test ways to increase community members’ access to healthcare services.

Through this grant, the project team will be looking at barriers that patients face when trying to access healthcare for chronic conditions or sudden, non-emergency health needs. With missed appointment rates of up to 25{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} at some healthcare facilities, this project seeks to improve patient health outcomes, improve cost efficiency for healthcare providers, and optimize transportation systems for non-emergency healthcare.

The project team, which includes representatives from PVTA, PVPC, Baystate Medical Center, Health New England, Stavros, Greater Springfield Senior Services, and the New North Citizens Council, represents a variety of stakeholders and perspectives to address this issue.

The Pioneer Valley was one of seven regions awarded funding through this grant program, the Health Care Access Design Challenge 2017. Grants totaling $208,855 were awarded based on a competitive process from among 16 applicant communities. Other awardees include El Paso, Colo.; Shiawassee County, Mich.; Tarrant County, Texas; rural Oklahoma; Rockingham County, Va.; and Coahoma and Quitman counties, Miss.

The ultimate goal of this project, slated to conclude in October 2018, is to come up with a ‘pitch’ for a solution to the problem of missed appointments. In order to develop its pitch, the project team is going to host a series of focus groups, conduct surveys, and do on-site observations with the people involved in the medical scheduling and transportation process.

This project has especially good timing, as the Commonwealth recently launched its accountable-care-organization structure for Medicaid patients. This structure focuses on preventive care as a way to keep people healthy and to prevent medical problems from growing into more serious — and costly — conditions.