Cleveland, OH,
03:40 PM

MetroHealth, ESOP Partner to Help Patients Improve Financial Health

The MetroHealth System and Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP) are partnering to assist patients in their return to the community by helping them improve their financial health.

The Linking Financial Empowerment to Patient Outcomes Project, or LIFEPOP, is an innovative partnership that embeds ESOP’s financial coaches at MetroHealth’s main campus and Old Brooklyn facility. The goal of the program is to positively impact the social determinants of health for older adults, including their financial and housing stability.

Research on the social determinants of health has found health outcomes are often tied to a patient’s zip code as much as their genetic code.

“Over one in 10 Cuyahoga County residents age 60 and older live in poverty,” said Dr. James Misak, Medical Director of The MetroHealth System’s Institute for H.O.P.E.TM “The inability of many of our community’s older adults to pay for their basic expenses threatens both their economic security and their health and well-being. We are hopeful that LIFEPOP will provide its participants a path to a more secure, healthier future while reducing their need for expensive emergency room visits and hospitalizations.”

LIFEPOP is funded by the Cleveland Foundation and the Nord Family Foundation.

“Since 2014, ESOP has worked with over 20,000 older adult clients, many of whom on a daily basis have to make the difficult decision between buying food, purchasing essential medications and keeping utilities on,” said Michael Billnitzer, Executive Director of ESOP. “With LIFEPOP we hope to improve the financial outcomes of MetroHealth’s older adult patients so they can meet their basic needs.”

Through LIFEPOP, older adult patients referred to ESOP from MetroHealth will receive financial capability services. Two hundred forty them will be participating in a research study. The Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging’s Center for Research and Education is overseeing the study to create a foundation for future randomized controlled studies that can establish a replicable, evidence-based program with the potential of being implemented in health settings across the country.

LIFEPOP clients will be referred to the program by inpatient and outpatient social workers and care coordinators.

The expectation is that providing financial capability and housing stability services will improve patients’ medication adherence and lead to a decrease in emergency room visits and hospital readmission rates. This will enable older adults to age in place with greater financial stability. Promoting financial health should decrease systemic costs and bring about savings for Medicare and Medicaid, reducing expenses associated with long-term care if older adults can safely remain in their homes.

About The MetroHealth System

The MetroHealth System, Cuyahoga County’s public health system, is honoring its commitment to create a healthier community by building a new hospital on its main campus in Cleveland. The building and the 25 acres of green space around it are catalyzing the revitalization of MetroHealth’s West Side neighborhood.

MetroHealth broke ground on its new hospital in 2019. The project is being financed with nearly $1 billion the system borrowed on its own credit after dramatically improving its finances. In the past five years, MetroHealth’s operating revenue has increased by 40% and its number of employees by 21%. Today, its staff of 8,000 provides care at MetroHealth’s four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. In the past year, MetroHealth has served 300,000 patients at more than 1.4 million visits in its hospitals and health centers, 75% of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

The health system is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center.

As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to teaching and research. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses a Cleveland Metropolitan School District high school of science and health.

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