The essay is going to focus on the project of the Children’s Health Fund of New York City. Here will be discussed the process of development of the fund, the challenges that it faced and the solutions it found.
In the era of rapid technological progress, a human being is seemingly capable of anything. People have learned to transplant organs, grow tissues, substitute failing elements of the human body with plastic or metal objects to secure the normal functioning of the organism, etc. Therefore, it is no wonder to us that in 1987 Irwin Redlener and Paul Simon came up with an idea of a big blue van, a state-of-the-art mobile medical clinic, which would bring medical care to homeless and underserved children. The main idea of what later became the Children’s Health Fund (CHF) was to deliver medical help to those children, who had no access to affordable transportation to the local hospitals. Yet today, twenty years later, the fund has grown to twenty-two programs and two affiliates in sixteen states and is fighting for the rights of immigrant children to receive health care.
The success of the Children’s Health Fund did not come easy. Due to the format of delivery of medical services the managers of the fund faced additional difficulties. Firstly, they had to provide the doctors with fully equipped workplaces and make sure that the vans had electric power and other conveniences. Secondly, the RV-sized medical clinics had to meet the regulatory standards and government legislation. Thirdly, the managers had to establish stable computer and communication technologies within the clinics and analyze access to technical support. Moreover, each mobile medical clinic had high initial costs and continuing operating costs, which included special equipment and other vehicle requirements. Despite a large number of challenges, the team of professionals running the CHF managed to go on. Today the fund is financed by four sources: private individual and corporate donation, congressional aid, and two government health insurance programs. Irwin Redlener and his colleagues found people who cared enough to participate in the Children’s Health project. Another aspect of giving primary health care is maintaining an accurate medical history of a patient. However, the patients of CHF live in poverty and often change shelters making it difficult to follow their treatment history. Therefore, the Chief Information Officer of the Children’s Health Fund implemented the idea of storing patient’s information in structured electronic form.
Doctors who work in mobile medical clinics have two primary communication needs: access to patient data and access to personnel from another medical facility. In case of emergency or need for professional consultation, doctors should have a reliable network, which provides data security and is easy and inexpensive to operate. The CHF tried satellite-based access, which proved to be expensive and unreliable, cellular wireless networks, which did not deliver dependable coverage, and delayed broadband wired access, which simply placed restrictions on access to the network and caused data security concerns. After this painful experience the CHF followed the example of American banks and adopted a solution which allows bringing together patient data from multiple sites and providing a backup.
The top management team of the Children’s Health Fund has done everything they can to keep the project going. They came up with a brilliant idea to help poor children, developed a mobile medical clinic to “bring” doctors to those who cannot reach the hospitals and looked for solutions to problems which arose in the process. However, that is not enough to secure future success of the project. The managers should keep looking into the future and trying to predict upcoming challenges. The CHF’s executives should continue discovering ways to improve their mobile clinics, train their staff efficiently, and stay technologically updated. The Children’s Health Fund has truly revolutionary thinkers as managers, who will lead it into successful future.
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