3: Link Health Boston Pilot Program
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the use of telehealth, but the digital divide poses a threat to ensuring equal access to healthcare for all Americans. Despite widespread internet usage, 15-24% of the population lacks broadband connection. The recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law offers a solution with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides a monthly subsidy of $30 and a one-time $100 subsidy for computer equipment. However, only 40% of households are eligible and only 13% of eligible Medicaid patients are enrolled.
Enter Link Health, a new organization that leverages the healthcare sector to connect patients to the ACP and bridge the digital divide in healthcare. By utilizing a get-out-the-vote framework and enrolling patients in healthcare settings, Link Health aims to reach the hard-to-reach households that traditional outreach methods fail to reach.
Link Health is launching a pilot in Boston, targeting the roughly 40,000 households without internet access. By partnering with community health centers and utilizing their pre-existing network of healthcare worker volunteers, Link Health estimates being able to enroll 5,000 to 7,500 households. The combination of in-person outreach and passive material deployment, along with the trust healthcare providers hold in their communities, is expected to result in successful enrollment.
Closing the digital divide in healthcare is critical to ensuring equal access to care, and Link Health is poised to play a significant role in making this a reality. With early results from the Boston pilot, Link Health has the potential to expand its reach and drive increased engagement, ultimately benefiting vulnerable populations and closing the healthcare access gap.