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Forging Connections to Care

by Jamie Mercurio, Senior Manager, athenaGives

athenahealth’s mission may be to unbreak healthcare, but we can’t get there alone. Free and charitable clinics are working in areas of extreme need to connect patients with high quality care.  Innovative non-profits in athenahealth’s backyard are educating and training the community, providing health services, increasing access to care, and so much more. It is the efforts of organizations like these which inspire athenaGives, an initiative we began six years ago to award grants and service donations to charitable organizations improving the health of our communities.  We continued growing our support in 2016, with some memorable milestones: $750,000 awarded in employee-directed cash grants and athenaNet service donations, surpassing $2 million in donations to date and more than doubling the number of free and charitable clinics on our network.

Donations of our network-enabled services continue to be the hallmark of the athenaGives program and leverage our network, knowledge, and work for good. There are currently 55 free and charitable clinics across the country using athenaNet to provide quality care to the uninsured and underinsured, some of whom readers of this blog have met before, like the New Braunfels Volunteers in Medicine

This year, we were honored to welcome 40 new clinics onto our network and support even more- Austin’s Volunteer Healthcare Clinic; San Francisco’s Clinic by the Bay; and Boston’s MetroWest Free Medical Program- with employee-directed cash grants.  For the second time in the program’s history, athenaGives traveled to remote southwestern Haiti to bring Klinik Fonfred live on athenaNet.  The timing was fortuitous; just weeks later, Hurricane Matthew devastated the region but spared the Klinik, which quickly rebounded to care for the injured.

Looking ahead to 2017, athenaGives will work to further integrate free clinic clients into athenahealth’s business, providing them with the full network knowledge, training, and back-office services to help them keep up with the increasing demand while delivering improved clinical outcomes.

athenaGives donations to free clinics domestically and abroad may have received the most attention this year, but we can’t forget about the oldest pillar of the athenaGives program, our grants for local nonprofits.  In 2016, we donated over $200,000 in cash grants to organizations of all shapes and sizes unbreaking healthcare.  The winners were determined by employee committees in each of athenahealth’s seven offices, which spent time reading and discussing the merits of applicants in their area. 

This year, in addition to our local grants, athenaGives proudly offered a new category of innovation grants. Three $20,000 grants were awarded to health IT nonprofits aligned with the principles of our More Disruption Please program. They are:

  • Noora Health, which trains patients and their families with high-impact health skills to improve outcomes and save lives.  They’ve trained 50,000 family members, have reduced 30 day readmissions by 24%, and have reduced post-surgical complications by 36%!
  • SIRUM, a social enterprise started by Stanford students by connecting patients in need to unopened, unexpired medications.  They’ve prevented at least 241,000 lbs of waste by redistributing medications to 85,000 patients and hope to help all 50,000,000 Americans who skip their prescriptions due to cost.
  • The MAVEN Project, short for Medical Alumni Volunteer Expert Network,  improves access to quality healthcare for underserved populations by linking their corps of expert volunteer physicians to clinics and organizations in need via telemedicine.  They also call our Watertown headquarters co-working space home!

Finally, athenaGives is proud to have activated one its greatest resources—its employees—in service to the community, with a “dollars for doers” program which awards grants directly to organizations where athenahealth employees volunteer. athenahealth distributed over $125,000 through this program in 2016 to a wide number of organizations in our communities with which athenistas are involved.

We’re especially excited that the growing number of athenaGives programs means additional ways to engage our community partners. This means some groups, such as Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, can see benefits throughout the year. “We are profoundly grateful to have athenahealth as a supporter of our work. In addition to the cash grant, which is invaluable to help deliver high quality care to our patients, often keeping the chronically ill out of the ER and saving our health system money, we appreciate that their employees jump at the chance to learn more and support us more fully- hosting a book reading, playing bingo with our patients, and organizing drives for goods and items we need.”

It has been a full year for athenaGives’ outreach efforts and donations—and an even fuller year for our beneficiaries and partners, who are doing such excellent work to unbreak healthcare.  We look forward to continuing this work and so much more in 2017.

Manager of the athenaGives program.

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