Patients as an Afterthought? A State Health Funder That Wants to Give Patients Choice and Control

Earlier this year, we highlighted NYSHealth Foundation’s Special Project Fund, an effort to step outside its main priority areas to consider other approaches and solutions and its creatively crowdsource-inspired funding efforts. But what about the backbone of NYSHealth giving? Where has that funding been focused lately?

In October, the funder named five organizations as new grantees for awards totaling over $1.2 million. The purpose of these grants is to “empower healthcare consumers and ensure they have the tools, resources, and support they need to make informed decisions about their health care.” Through projects and studies, the new grantees will help New Yorkers access their own health information and get familiar with the types of health services available in their local communities.

“Too often in our healthcare system, patients are an afterthought, when they should be at the center and treated as its most important customer,” said David Sandman, president and CEO of NYSHealth. “Consumers need and deserve more choice, control, and convenience to make educated decisions and understand their health care options, especially regarding how much they can expect to pay for their care.”

Consumer engagement has lagged behind in spite of enhanced professional training and technological developments across the country. And with the state of health insurance in this country, trying to get treatment often feels like a losing game and a financial drain with very few options to choose from. One highlighted grantee, IMPAQ, will be using NYSHealth’s funds to create a tool for consumers to estimate their out-of-pocket costs for high-cost common conditions. Efforts like these aim to help patients take control of their care and make better-informed decisions about where to seek treatment and which treatment option to pursue. 

Empowering Healthcare Consumers is one of two top priority areas at NYS Health. The other big one is Building Healthy Communities, which you can learn more about here.

On a side note, NYSHealth has also been particularly concerned about the mental health for returning veterans and their families. And it’s been looking towards public-private partnerships to tackle the issue. In October, it hosted an event alongside the Veterans Mental Health Coalition of NYC to highlight current partnership in this space and encourage further collaboration. A couple of these partnerships at work are Northwell Health and the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as well as the National Alliance on Mental Illness Home Front and the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic.

There have also been a few leadership changes taking place at the foundation too, most recently with the hiring of Derek Coy to be the foundation’s new veterans’ health officer. “As a veteran transitioning out of the service and moving to New York, I saw firsthand the challenges returning veterans face, as well as the complexity and scarcity of resources offered to them,” Coy shared.

Coy is a U.S. Marine veteran who served in Iraq and has worked for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Under Coy’s leadership, NYSHealth plans to focus on the following three goals:

  • Expanding choices and access to community-based services and care, beyond what is available in VA-run facilities

  • Leveraging federal and private funding opportunities to increase the dollars available for services for returning veterans in New York State

  • Serving as a thought leader, convener, and advocate to improve the health of returning veterans and their families through public policy and awareness strategies.

Veteran’s health isn’t a top priority area at NYSHealth like patient empowerment is, but it’s still an important focus that we’re expecting to see big things from in the coming months.