Cityblock Health CEO Toyin Ajayi on how to scale human-centered care models • TechCrunch

Cityblock Health focuses on providing affordable, person-centered healthcare in lower-income and marginalized communities while building sustainable business models. Founder and CEO Toyin Ajayi spoke at Disrupt today about the challenges of addressing health care inequities while serving patients with personalized medical care, behavioral health care and social services.

“Do I believe that health care is a right that should be available to all people, regardless of their ability to pay, and then should be distributed fairly? yes 100% And there are many ways to achieve that,” Ajayi said.

“It’s unacceptable that in 2022 we’re looking at the exact same data we were looking at 15 years ago about health care disparities, health care outcomes, all made worse by COVID,” she added of the current health care system. “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, black and brown people are dying more from COVID. My God, poor people die more from COVID. Oh my, essential workers who don’t have health insurance. We knew these things. Give me a break. So yes, I would have designed it differently, and I’m also not content to whine and moan about it. We have to do something.”

Based in Brooklyn, New York and now living in seven markets, including Indiana and Ohio, Cityblock works with many people who lack access to basics like food, safe places to sleep and social support, which creates more risk factors for worsening chronic conditions. diseases. As a result, many rely on emergency rooms for crises such as running out of insulin or psychiatric emergencies because they haven’t received the kind of care that would keep them at home.

“I come to this job as a physician deeply passionate about caring for underserved communities. I come to this work from a place of true heart. This is my life’s work and my mission,” Ajayi said. “I’m also a deep pragmatist, and I recognize that there are real economic forces driving most of the decisions that people make in our health care system, certainly in the for-profit space, but even as we learn and read more about it, even in the for-profit space non-agricultural aim.”

Addressing systemic issues like health care disparities is important on a moral level, but there’s also an opportunity for payers to figure out how to create a more viable business by caring for people differently.

When launching in a new market, such as Indiana or Ohio, Cityblock looks for places where there is socioeconomic disparity, and then looks for partners, payers and health insurers to go to market with.

“Prior to launch, we spend our time figuring out exactly where in the neighborhood we need to be,” Ajayi said. “Can we be close to public transportation, close to grocery stores, making sure that we’re really mapping the ecosystem and showing up in places that are accessible to our members, and also positioning ourselves so that we can go to the home and see the people from there. “

Part of that means working with community-based organizations, including shelters, housing agencies and food pantries. “We think of ourselves as part of the solder in an ecosystem that brings together existing providers, specialty providers, hospitals, communities, organizations and creates a seamless experience for the people we serve,” Ajayi said.

She noted that many of these organizations operate on weak and vulnerable business models. For example, during the pandemic, many community-based organizations could not recruit enough workers to keep coming. Many operate on thin margins and are funded by grants. This means that Cityblock must be prepared to support community organizations in its ecosystem, including tasks such as grocery packaging and delivery.

Technology and data science can also support more individualized care. For example, data science can help Cityblock understand who to engage with first in patient populations that are often very diverse in terms of age and needs.

“I have to engage them all. Who should I go after first? Who should I call first? Who’s going to the ER tomorrow unless they get a phone call from us? Who are not at home today because they are probably not working, or who are likely to be engaged over the weekend,” Ajayi said. “These are the kinds of things that we can use our data and our data products to help us refine better.”

Better data science means people also have to repeat their story less when seeking care. “When we interview our members about what they don’t like about the traditional health care system, it’s, ‘I have to tell my whole story over and over again.'” And then you add layers of discrimination and stigma that many people face. More than half of our members are people of color because that is the best representation of Medicaid and dual eligibility groups.”

“Telling your story over and over seems benevolent, but the health care system forces people to tell their story over and over again, subjecting them to friction, abrasion and sometimes even trauma, which is completely counterproductive to a therapeutic relationship that will lead to better health outcomes. Even easing that is such an important lever for us.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *