IBM Health Corps and Unity Health Care

2016
United States

Unity Health Care, Inc. is one of the largest community health centers in the country providing quality care to more than 100,000 medically underserved and vulnerable patients and families. Unity operates 26 health care sites including 10 sites at homeless shelters, four school-based health centers, and the DC jail. Unity offers a full range of primary health care services that reach the most vulnerable residents of DC. In order to more deeply and effectively deliver patient-centered care, Unity aims to integrate behavioral health services into its primary care practices. IBM Health Corps worked with Unity to develop a strategic roadmap for implementing an integrated model of care.

Over the course of three weeks, the IBM Health Corps team explored how Unity can deliver “whole person care” - where caring for the physical aspects of someone's health is aligned with someone's behavioral and mental health. The team recommended operationally-feasible and financially-sustainable methods to make the systems surrounding how patients access and receive “whole person” care more efficient and effective. Using Internet of Things technology, the team analyzed current clinical workflow, and developed a simulation model for improving patient access and clinical efficiency. They also modeled how Unity can use previously unused information available in the electronic medical record to proactively identify patients in need of behavioral health support. This facilitates patients getting the care they need from the right specialists and clinic support staff when they need it most.

At IBM Health Corps' recommendation, Unity began implementation of an integrated behavioral health-primary care model starting in July 2016, just 6 weeks after the IBM team wrapped up their work. For the pilot, Unity trained three behavioral health consultants to serve in three Unity clinics and prepared the clinic staff at each of the pilot sites for the new model. Since starting in the clinics in a part-time model, the three consultants have had over 100 patient encounters in one month, greatly increasing patients' same-day access to behavioral health services. Unity anticipates an integrated model will ultimately result in better health outcomes, increased staff satisfaction, and reduced total costs of care. Unity plans to scale the integrated model across the entire organization, delivering whole person care across its 26 clinics.

“Being with IBM team, I am just blown away by not only what the team has been able to give but really I'm excited that there's a path moving forward. This isn't going to be a one time activity that we all feel good about looking back, but that it's really the beginning of a long term process for change.”

Seiji Hayashi, MD, MPH, FAAFP
Executive Vice President for Transformation and Innovation,
Unity Health Care

Team Members

Shannon Cole

Program Manager, Asia Pacific

IBM Global Financing

Singapore

Shannon Cole

Program Manager, Asia Pacific

IBM Global Financing

Singapore

IBM Health Corps Team:

Unity Health Care (USA)

Mary Piepenbrink, RN

Associate Partner, Healthcare

IBM Global Business Services

United States

Mary Piepenbrink, RN

Associate Partner, Healthcare

IBM Global Business Services

United States

IBM Health Corps Team:

Unity Health Care (USA)

Olivia Smith, PhD

Staff Researcher

IBM Research

Australia

Olivia Smith, PhD

Staff Researcher

IBM Research

Australia

IBM Health Corps Team:

Unity Health Care (USA)

Utkarsh

Account Executive, IBM Client Innovation Center - India

IBM Global Business Services

India

Utkarsh

Account Executive, IBM Client Innovation Center - India

IBM Global Business Services

India

IBM Health Corps Team:

Unity Health Care (USA)

    Preston Young

    Senior Attorney and Trust & Compliance Officer

    IBM General Counsel

    United States

    Preston Young

    Senior Attorney and Trust & Compliance Officer

    IBM General Counsel

    United States

    IBM Health Corps Team:

    Unity Health Care (USA)