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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.”