OMAHA, Neb.–For over three years, CyncHealth — the state-wide designated health information exchange (HIE) for Nebraska — and its partner United Way of the Midland, have worked with dozens of healthcare and community-based organizations to build a social determinants of health ecosystem. This network of care, which CyncHealth has branded as Unite Nebraska, utilizes technology with their partner Unite Us, which is focused on meeting social needs and improving health outcomes for everyone in the state.
“On a technical note, the closed-loop feature has been the most impactful part of Unite [Nebraska] for our organization”
Building upon the history and mission of United Way of the Midlands — which will be entering its 100th year of service in 2023 — CyncHealth and United Way of the Midlands have connected health care and social care across Nebraska. In its current state, the Unite Nebraska system includes 466 organizations with more than 3,700 users sending upwards of 2,400 referrals to meet social needs in 2022. Over the last year, more than 550 individuals in Nebraska were assisted with housing, 300 plus received food assistance and more than 300 received clothing and housing items. The network continues to grow with increasing speed every year, adding dozens of organizations supporting a broad spectrum of social needs every month and serving Nebraskans across the state.
The CyncHealth and United Way social care partnership has and continues to facilitate connections between healthcare and community-based organizations to better support the social health needs of Nebraskans. Through this interconnectedness, organizations can meet needs faster, build healthier communities, and avoid duplicating requests to avoid financial waste. Using a statewide approach allows more organizations access to the network and provides the ability to receive assistance via many channels. Samantha Wall, MPH, the former Social Determinant of Health Program Coordinator at Charles Drew Health Center states, “Meeting a patient’s social needs can not only help improve their health outcome but can impact their entire family and extends into all the communities they are a part of. Unite [Nebraska] has allowed our organization to connect so many more patients to crucial resources than we have ever been able to do before.”
The partnership between CyncHealth and United Way, utilizing the United Way NE211-curated database of social services, provides unique support and programs to individuals not typically seen with other social care networks. 211 Navigators have essential tools for connecting clients to resources and services, supporting closed-loop referrals, which means someone follows up to ensure referrals are picked up and met, additional screening for social needs, and a language line service that offers more than 240 translators and options to assist people with hearing and speaking challenges. “On a technical note, the closed-loop feature has been the most impactful part of Unite [Nebraska] for our organization,” said Wall.
A unique aspect of the CyncHealth approach is the self-referral system which launched mid-2022. In addition to removing the barrier of access to social care through a healthcare provider or being tethered to a Medicaid or Medicare plan, this function allows individuals to scan a QR code to connect with a 211 Navigators, who can then help assess their social needs and connect them to the right services. Empowering individuals to seek out social care resources on their own continues to remove barriers to necessary care, which helps build healthier communities.
CyncHealth is also actively playing a part in shaping social care through several community initiatives as part of the social care ecosystem. These initiatives include the Health and Dwelling, a Medical Respite for Homeless Program supported by Charles Drew Health Center and Siena Francis House, the Greater Omaha Pathways Hub awarded to the Omaha Community Foundation and a postpartum care pilot program to ensure healthy outcomes for new mothers and babies who are at-risk.
CyncHealth is the designated health information exchange (HIE) for Nebraska and western Iowa, connecting over 5 million lives and 1,135 facilities and counting. These cross-connections are community-wide, consisting of hospitals, specialty hospitals, rural health clinics, specialty clinics, long-term post-acute care facilities, and other entities that have valuable data for monitoring the health of populations. CyncHealth participating clinicians can better care for patients by having instant access to comprehensive and longitudinal health history, including patient encounter-level reports, diagnostic history, allergies, immunizations, and laboratory results from participating facilities. For more information, visit https://cynchealth.org/.
About United Way of the Midlands
For nearly 100 years, United Way of the Midlands (UWM) has served the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro by bridging the business and not-for-profit sectors to create a Circle of Support that helps our neighbors overcome difficult challenges and start building a better future. UWM’s funded programs and direct services address social and economic disparities and meet families’ essential needs such as healthy food, safe and stable housing, physical and mental health services, career preparation and job training. For more information, visit www.unitedwaymidlands.org.
About Unite Us
Unite Us is a technology company that builds coordinated care networks of health and social service providers. With Unite Us’ end-to-end solution, providers across sectors identify social care needs, send and receive secure electronic referrals, report on tangible outcomes, and transform payment models within a secure and collaborative ecosystem. Unite Us’ community engagement teams build sustainable partnerships with local organizations to ensure networks have solid foundations, launch successfully, and continue to grow and thrive. This HITRUST-certified social care infrastructure helps communities address social determinants of health and advance health equity. Follow Unite Us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.