In New Orleans, nearly 30,000 low-income residents qualified for free healthcare through the Greater New Orleans Community Health Connection, but few of these residents utilized the city’s network of free clinics. The city’s Office of Performance and Accountability, The Office of Neighborhood Engagement and the New Orleans Health department partnered with 504HealthNet to form the City Accelerator team. They sought to better understand why, despite the city’s high incidence of chronic disease, low-income residents rarely visited the clinics. The team came to understand the social and systemic barriers that discouraged residents from using available healthcare services, and tested civic engagement techniques that could be adopted by the city’s health department. Through the City Accelerator, New Orleans has:
- Encouraged more residents to use primary care services through Stand Up and Get Care, a multi-platform campaign including text messaging, mass media and health ambassador intervention techniques.
- Designed two community engagement curricula focused on training city hall and health department staff around human-centered design and engagement with the public.
- Received additional sustainability funding from the Louisiana Public Health Institute to sustain their work through April 2017.
Ideas to accelerate
Why this work matters
Low-income residents suffer disproportionately from poor health outcomes such as HIV/AIDS, syphilis and infant mortality, and the associated costs to government are substantial. Low-cost interventions like those piloted in New Orleans are a simple, but impactful way of reducing costs while improving service delivery for residents. After the devastation of Katrina, the availability and accessibility of healthcare for low-income residents in New Orleans was dangerously limited. New Orleans is a great example for all cities looking to engage residents in making healthier choices by employing behavioral science and community engagement strategies to encourage healthier choices.
Stand Up and Get Care, a play on the song played when the New Orleans Saints make a touchdown, was designed to listen to and respond to New Orleans’ low-income residents. Emphasizing the element of inclusion, New Orleans (like other City Accelerator sites) staged a Design Day and sought to heavily involve low-income residents in the co-creation of key elements of the campaign, including the text messaging and Health Ambassador programs. The city’s health department has also utilized feedback from residents gathered during the project to improve its website and health education outreach materials.