Health Leads

At a Glance

National Office: 
2 Oliver St., 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02109
Phone: 617-391-3633

Rebecca Onie
People Served: 
8,871
Year Founded: 
1996
Tax ID: 
450484533

Focus area(s):

Health Services/Access
Maternal & Child Health

Description

Health Leads enables doctors to "prescribe" food, clothing, heating assistance, or other critical resources, just as they do medication. Patients take their prescriptions to the clinic waiting room, where Advocates (college student volunteers), stationed at Health Leads desks, work side by side with the patients to assist them in connecting with these resources. 

Impact and Outcomes

In FY12, at 21 sites in 6 cities, almost 1,000 Advocates assisted nearly 9,000 patients and their families in accessing the resources they needed to be healthy.
Upon graduation, 90% of Advocates entered jobs or further study in the fields of health and/or poverty, with 88% reporting that Health Leads had a "high" or "very high" impact on those plans.
Health Leads regularly serves as a healthcare-sector thought leader on addressing the social determinants of health. For example, a TEDMED2012 talk (tinyurl.com/bssbumc) by Co-Founder and CEO Rebecca Onie has been viewed online more than 245,000 times.
A recent study (link at left) found Health Leads assisted 50% of client families at 1 clinic in accessing at least 1 resource—most often employment, health insurance, or food—within 6 months. The authors concluded “the Health Leads model had a positive impact on reducing unmet social needs for low-income families. This innovative multidisciplinary team-based model was able to connect the medical home with community-based resources, often a daunting task within the current primary care model.”

Mission & Goals

Vision & Mission

Health Leads envisions a healthcare system that addresses all patients' basic resource needs as a standard part of quality care. Health Leads' mission is to catalyze this healthcare system by connecting patients with the basic resources they need to be healthy, and in doing so, build leaders with the conviction and ability to champion quality care for all patients.
 
Program Goals, FY13
 
Enable physicians to "prescribe" basic resources for their patients, such as food, clothing, or heat.
Increase number of patients assisted by Health Leads Advocates (college student volunteers) in connecting with "prescribed" resources from 8,871 to 10,144. Again this year, recruit nearly 1,000 Advocates from a diverse applicant pool. Continue to help inspire more than 85% of graduating Advocates to pursue jobs or graduate study in the fields of health or poverty, creating a pipeline of new leaders to catalyze change in the healthcare system.

Program

Program

Every day, doctors prescribe medications to patients who have no food at home, live in a car, or lack other basic resources. Medicine alone won't solve these problems, and many of these patients return with more serious and expensive illnesses, entrenching them further in poverty.

Health Leads enables doctors to "prescribe" food, housing, or other critical resources, just as they would medication. Patients take their prescriptions to a Health Leads desk in the clinic, where Advocates (college student volunteers) connect them to these resources. At the same time, the transformative Advocate experience is producing new leaders to catalyze change in the healthcare system.

Each Health Leads region is overseen by an Executive Director and a Program Director, and the Advocates at each desk are trained and supervised by a Program Manager. The organization’s national office supports the regions with executive leadership and centralized administrative, information technology, training, programmatic design, and evaluation capabilities.

Health Leads' model is unique. In July 2011, The New York Times wrote, "Five decades after the war on poverty, a work force that can systematically address the social causes of illness is still to be built. Health Leads offers a model of how it might work."

Impact

Health Leads’ Methodology & Evaluation

Health Leads’ methodology for evaluating impact includes:

  • Tracking of families’ progress in a client database, using metrics such as needs identified and resource connections verified.
  • Measuring Health Leads’ economic impact on healthcare institutions.
  • Surveying Advocates (college student volunteers) on subjects ranging from training efficacy to Health Leads’ influence on post-graduate plans.

This evaluation is directly linked to the organization’s strategic goals, listed below with key sample results.

  • Increase the food, housing, and other basic resource connections Health Leads makes for patients with a scalable Health Leads model: In FY12, almost 1,000 Health Leads Advocates assisted nearly 8,000 patients and their families in accessing the resources they needed to be healthy.
  • Create a volunteer, alumni, and staff “leadership pipeline” to execute and champion Health Leads’ new model of healthcare delivery: In FY12, 90% of graduating Advocates had post-graduate plans for jobs or advanced study in the fields of health and/or poverty; 88% of them reported Health Leads’ impact on those plans was "high" or "very high.”
  • Establish the business case for healthcare institutions to pay for patient resource connections. Because economic value is one of the more tangible keys to healthcare reform, Health Leads is evaluating its influence on factors that affect healthcare institutions’ bottom lines. One early pilot study found that the capacity of the licensed clinical social worker at Boston’s Dimock Center to provide patients with reimbursable therapeutic services increased by 169% after Health Leads was implemented.

Clinical Pediatrics Study

A prospective cohort study (link at left) conducted at the Harriet Lane Clinic of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center found that during a 2.5-year period, 50% of 1,059 client families had enrolled in at least one community-based resource with the assistance of Health Leads. Families most frequently enrolled in resources for employment, health insurance, and food. The authors concluded "the Health Leads model had a positive impact on reducing unmet social needs for low-income families. This innovative multidisciplinary team-based model was able to connect the medical home with community-based resources, often a daunting task within the current primary care model.”

Growth Plan

Economic Model & Sustainability

Health Leads' shared-revenue model features payments from healthcare partners and contributions from the philanthropic community. The organization’s sustainability model has four features: earned revenue, local philanthropy, national philanthropy, and substantial in-kind contributions from volunteers and healthcare partners.

Growth Plan

Between the start of FY13 and the end of FY14, Health Leads plans at least a 48% increase in desks and a 17% increase in regions, steered by a strategic plan explicitly aimed at implementing this expansion and preparing for future, more substantial growth.

Each of Health Leads’ current strategic goals (fully listed in the "Impact" tab and referenced here) is critical to the growth plan:

  • Increasing resource connections will be a central effort; Health Leads projects an increase from 8,871 clients in FY12 to 15,500 in FY14.
  • Creating a leadership pipeline involves both inspiring Advocates to pursue related careers and cultivating alumni to serve as mentors for Advocates and champions of Health Leads.
  • Establishing a business case is key to the organization’s funding model. Because quantifiable economic value is one of the more tangible keys to healthcare reform, Health Leads is undertaking evaluation of its influence on factors that affect institutions’ bottom lines. Examples: Health Leads is studying the effects of its services on patient satisfaction and Emergency Room use by primary-care patients.
  • Preparing for rapid future growth involves all of the above, as well as positioning Health Leads to move from the “pilot” to the “flagship” phase of scale, starting in FY14, in order to yield faster, more effective, and more sustainable growth. Preparation for this phase includes creating a team dedicated to implementation of new-site launches, developing infrastructure to expand to new markets, standardizing the program model, developing an alumni engagement program, and upgrading technology. Health Leads’ current strategic plan (FY10-FY14), calls for opening three new desks in FY13 and five new desks in FY14 in current markets and launching one new region in FY14 featuring a minimum of two additional desks. In order to fund the startup and ongoing operations of these desks, Health Leads’ funding model requires a shared revenue structure of payment from clinics and contributions from philanthropy. In addition, to ensure sustainability of service for at least three years, Health Leads seeks multi-year and annual commitments from funders. In total, the funding requirement to open these new desks and one new region to operate for at least three years is as shown below.

In addition to providing service at these new desks, Health Leads’ new strategic plan, scheduled to be implemented from FY15-FY18, will articulate an expanded growth strategy.  Funds will be needed to execute this strategy and expand to numerous new regions and open new desks in existing and future markets. 

 

Payment from hospitals

Contributions from philanthropy

Total

3 New Desks – Starting FY13

$1.8M (3 yrs)

$0.9M (3 yrs)

$2.7M (3 yrs)

5 New Desks – Starting FY14

$3M (3 yrs)

$1.5M (3 yrs)

$4.5M (3 yrs)

1 New Region with at least 2 New Desks – Startup in FY13 and Launch in FY14

$1.2M (3 yrs)

$0.75M ($.15M for startup in FY13 plus.6M / 3 yrs)

$1.95M ($.15M for startup in FY13 plus 1.8M / 3 yrs)

TOTAL

$6M

$3.15M

$9.15M

Location of Sites

National Office: 
2 Oliver St., 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02109
Phone: 617-391-3633
List of locationsMap of locations

To make a contribution to a program site:

  1. Click on the "Make a Contribution Now" button and include the name, city and state of the program you would like to support, in the "notes" text box on the organization's donation form, if available.
  2. If a "notes" or "designation" box is not available, write the city and state on your check in the "notes" section or call the national office to designate your contribution to a local program site.

Locations in the following states:

District Of Columbia

Illinois

Massachusetts

Maryland

New York

Rhode Island

Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2012

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$38,990
Foundation Grants: 
$3,160,936
Government Funding: 
$10,000
Contributions from Individuals: 
$912,500
Special Events: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$685,063
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$2,500,000
Other Revenue (Description): 
Release from capital fund
Total Revenue: 
$7,307,489

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$5,845,546
Occupancy: 
$0
Travel & Entertainment: 
$567,536
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$97,845
Telephone & Communications: 
$303,158
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$490,590
Other Expenses (Description): 

Event Expenses   $68,800

Student Stipends $37,500

Volunteer Transportation $42,920

Office space rental $214,500

Indirect Expenses $126,870

Total Expenses: 
$7,304,675

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$2,814

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2011

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$33,109
Foundation Grants: 
$2,684,181
Government Funding: 
$0
Contributions from Individuals: 
$853,450
Program Services Fees: 
$0
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$20,122
Other Revenue: 
$2,043,496
Other Revenue (Description): 
In-kind services $2,043,496
Special Events: 
$40,026
Total Revenue: 
$5,674,384

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$3,235,957
Occupancy: 
$0
Travel & Entertainment: 
$0
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$0
Telephone & Communication: 
$0
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$3,488,289
Other Expenses (Description): 

Operating Expenses  $1,444,793

In-kind services           $2,043,496

Total Expenses: 
$6,724,246

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$-1,049,862

Major Funders

Earned Revenue

Half of Health Leads’ clinic partners currently pay some or all of the cost of Health Leads' services. In addition to covering costs, payments from hospitals demonstrate a proof of market acceptance by clinics and enhances the model’s scalability. In Health Leads' growth plan, hospitals and community health center partners are asked to pay two thirds of the $300,000 cost of operating a desk, with the rest contributed by corporations, foundations, and philanthropic individuals. 

Major Funding Sources

The following donors have made multi-year commitments in recent years:
 
$4 million or more
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
$2 Million - $3,999,999
  • Anonymous
  • John and Catherine Mandile
  • New Profit
  • Samberg Family Foundation
$1 Million - $1,999,999
  • Pershing Square Foundation
  • Physicians Foundation
  • Skoll Foundation
$750,000 - $999,999
  • The JPB Foundation 
$500,000 - $999,999
  • Sarah Peter
$250,000 - $499,999
  • Amgen Foundation
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous (managed by Dietel Partners)
  • Steven and Deborah Barnes
  • Joshua and Anita Bekenstein
  • Rob and Cindy Doyle
  • Union Square Fund, Inc.
$100,000 - $249,999
  • Michael Blau and Ann Muschett
  • Laurence Cohen
  • Cox Family Fund
  • Susan and Digger Donahue
  • Salesforce.com Foundation
$50,000 - $99,999
  • Anonymous
  • Crown Family Philanthropies
  • Swanee Hunt Family Foundation
  • Jane's Trust
  • Klarman Family Foundation
  • Michael R. Klein
  • Duncan and Ellen McFarland
  • Michael Reese Health Trust
  • Mulago Foundation
  • The Stonesifer Family