Home Health Care How to create healthcare models for underserved populations

How to create healthcare models for underserved populations

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Say a startup enters the healthcare space with the goal of assisting underserved patient populations. The company may have a plethora of ideas, but such approaches are only useful if they first examine the problem from the patient’s point of view.

For instance, perhaps the startup wants to build a mobile app for the said patient group. The tool will be pointless if patients don’t have the data plans to leverage it.

Susan Jepson, vice president of Upstream Health Innovations and interim CEO of Hitch Health, will touch on this very issue during her keynote at MedCity’s INVEST Twin Cities conference in Minneapolis on October 11.

“The only way you can truly solve a problem is to make sure that you have identified the right one and understand it clearly from the user perspective,” she said in an email conversation.

Jepson, who co-founded Upstream Health Innovations and Hitch Health, is leveraging this approach at both organizations.

Upstream Health Innovations is part of Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis. The focus, Jepson said, is on “upstream interventions that impact overall health such as the social determinants of health.”

The organization leverages a model called human-centered design, which looks at the human perspective throughout all steps of the problem-solving process. The ultimate goal of Upstream is to remove barriers to healthcare such as poverty, discrimination and income. It identifies, incubates and accelerates health solutions that assist with this mission.


Attend MedCity INVEST Twin Cities to hear from healthcare experts like Susan Jepson. Save $50 with the code MCN50. Register now.


Hitch Health is a separate organization that seeks to remove transportation barriers for patients and reduce no-show rates at hospitals. Its technology was piloted at Hennepin Healthcare.

The startup’s solution integrates the EHR and rideshare services. Its software applies filters to determine a patient’s eligibility for a ride. Hitch then automatically sends the patient a ride offer via SMS text. On the day of the appointment, the company will dispatch a car to pick up the individual. When the appointment is over, the patient can text “ready” and a ride will come.

“The patient no longer needs to call to schedule a ride or call to schedule a return ride,” Jepson said. “There is no need for a mobile app.”

Ultimately, the aim of both Upstream Health Innovations and Hitch Health is to aid underserved populations is the best possible manner.

“Our problem-framing and problem-solving methodology is an approach that focuses on deeply understanding and designing with patients and the communities we serve,” Jepson noted.

Photo: liuzishan, Getty Images

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