5/11/2014Find free care, fast: New website will create national index of... -- ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --http://www.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?expire=&title=Find+free+care%2C+fast%3A+New+website+will+create+national+index+of...+--+ANN+ARBOR%2C…1/2
Find free care, fast: New website will create national index of safety net clinics
Findcare.org, created by U-M students, will grow via crowdsourcing
ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A fragile medical safety net stretches across America, made upof thousands of clinics offering free and low-cost health care to those with no other place to turn.Run by a wide range of nonprofit groups, religious organizations, communities and educational institutions, they serve a vitalrole -- and will continue to do so even as more Americans get access to health insurance.But finding a clinic, and figuring out what it offers, can pose a challenge.Enter a group of University of Michigan Medical School students and their colleagues from health and information technologyschools at U-M.Together, they've launched
, a nonprofit website that aims to make it easy to find free or sliding-scale clinics near you, learn who they assist, what services they offer, understand where and when they're open, and how to contact them.The site's database already includes information on over 500 clinics in Michigan and approximately 2,000 in the Midwest; theMichigan clinics are already available on the website. The Findcare team aims to expand the website into a nationwideresource with information provided by clinics themselves, and by other groups of community-minded health professionsstudents.With funding from the U-M Medical School and the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the students built findcare.organd added clinic information to its database relying primarily on volunteer labor. They used an interactive Google Maps APIinterface to make searching and navigation easier.More than two dozen students helped pull together the information on the site from a wide range of sources, and build aninterface that works well on mobile devices and desktop computers. You might call them community service entrepreneurs.Together, they created a system for adding and updating clinic information that relies on a form of crowdsourcing, though withadded measures to ensure the validity of information. Individuals who submit valid information can become "trusted users" over time. This will make findcare.org a dynamic and essentially self-updating site, unlike previous sites with similar aims. Although the Affordable Care Act has allowed millions of people to get health insurance coverage, millions more still lack it --including those living in states that have chosen not to accept federal dollars to expand eligibility for Medicaid.In all, 13.4 percent of those living in the U.S. are uninsured, according to the latest poll by the Gallup organization. Federal
projections show that as many as 30 million people living in the U.S. could still be uninsured in the year 2023.
That r eality makes findcare.org an important resource, says one of the U-M leaders who helped fund the project."Our medical students who took the initiative on this project, and their partners from other U-M schools and at other institutions,should take real pride in achieving something that will serve the community in an entirely new way," says Rajesh Mangrulkar,M.D., Associate Dean for medical student education at the U-M Medical School. "I hope their colleagues at universities acrossthe country will join this movement and make the directory as robust as it can be."Michael Gao, who will graduate this month from the U-M Medical School, and Elizabeth Haworth-Hoeppner, a rising fourth-year medical student, lead the organization along with first-year medical students Michael Huarng and Sanjana Malviya. Findcarenow includes students from the U-M Medical School, the schools of Information, Public Health, Social Work, the colleges of Engineering and Pharmacy, and the Ross Business School.They received support and guidance from Sanjay Saint, M.D., MPH, the George Dock Collegiate Professor of Internal Medicineat U-M and associate chief of medicine at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. Joel Howell, M.D., the Victor Vaughn Collegiate