The team is building on the success of and expanding its leadership in existing, effective programs. For example, at CommUnityCare’s East Austin Health Center, a federally qualified health clinic serving low-income women and children of Central Texas, faculty in the Pediatrics Residency program run CenteringParenting — a group-focused approach to well-child care. Six to 10 pairs of mothers and babies with birthdays within weeks of each other attend 10 checkups together during the children’s first three years of life.
While providing babies with the standard exams and vaccines delivered in a traditional clinic, the program builds supportive communities of women who educate and empower one another as they experience the ups and downs of motherhood.
The Impact Factory: Entrepreneurship for Good
The Impact Factory is an engine for social innovation, entrepreneurship and community service at The University of Texas at Austin. A cross-campus collaboration led by Michael Hole, M.D., MBA, the organization aims to measurably improve health and economic opportunity for vulnerable people in the United States. The Impact Factory designs, launches, scales and studies organizations serving tens of thousands of people, while building an evidence base and talent pipeline for self-sustaining social impact.
- Big & Mini matches seniors and teens for virtual friendships dealing with loneliness and mental illness. Featured by the Today Show, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, the nonprofit serves 6,500-plus people in 50 states and 65 countries.
- Dollar For helps people navigate nonprofit hospitals’ charity care policies to relieve medical debt, America’s No.1 cause of bankruptcy. The Impact Factory has scaled the nonprofit, which has eliminated nearly $19,000,000 in medical debt, to Texas.
- Early Bird is a first-of-its-kind, health system-integrated scholarship fund and education program serving 260 low-income mothers and babies in Austin. A randomized control trial studying payer-prioritized outcomes is underway.
- Good Apple was a grocery delivery company fighting food insecurity. For every box delivered to a customer, a family in need received another, free of charge. The company made 60,000-plus deliveries and employed 65 people before its acquisition by Farmhouse Delivery in May 2022.
- Main Street Relief is a national nonprofit and volunteer corps of 200-plus public servants helping small businesses in 43 states survive economic crises. The organization offers one-on-one coaching on financial management, sales, strategic planning, operations, marketing, technology and more.
- Miracle Messages, now partnered with Google, offers family reunification services and a phone-based buddy system to strengthen social supports for people experiencing homelessness. The Impact Factory scaled the nonprofit, which has reunited 600-plus unhoused neighbors with loved ones, to Texas.
The Community pillar aims to leverage the assets and strengths of the Central Texas community to ensure robust care for all. The pillar is made up of pediatricians and Dell Children’s Medical Center associates dedicated to building community relationships and authentic partnerships with fellow citizens.
Members of this team aided in organizing and staffing the mass vaccination events occurring at Circuit of the Americas early in the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in over 60,000 vaccinations. This effort targeted medically underserved populations that have traditionally not had consistent access to health care to ensure that all members of the Austin community had the opportunity to be protected during the ongoing COVID pandemic. The Community Pillar partners with local and national non profits and agencies, ranging from Austin Independent School District and SafeKids to the Children’s Hospital Association.
The Advocacy Education pillar is dedicated to ensuring that all members of the Department of Pediatrics have the tools and skills to advocate on behalf of their patients and communities on an individual, community and policy level.
The group believes that advocacy is foundational to the practice of pediatrics, and by teaching others how to advocate for their patients and communities through experiential learning in addition to more traditional methods of teaching, the community is making real time contributions toward achieving the optimal health and well-being of children.
The Innovation and Research pillar aims to leverage high-performing systems to improve care for complex populations, decrease barriers to care and ensure health equity in vulnerable populations. Current projects include studying the impact of the Child Psychiatry Access Network for real-time psychiatry consultation and telepsychology and telepsychiatry support for school students through the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine program.
Members of this team are involved in the Specialty Care Access Network for newly arrived immigrant children. They are also working on a coordinated approach to advocacy around firearm safety. Additionally, they have researched food insecurity during COVID-19 and launched an intensive case management program for families experiencing food insecurity.
This team aims to create and strengthen existing partnerships between primary care physicians and school health and community agencies by improving systems for communication and resource sharing. With AISD partners, next steps include focusing on systematic barriers to mental health care and innovative systems for collaboration at all touchpoints in a child’s life — from mental health providers to primary care physicians to parents and school personnel.
The Legislative and Policy pillar provides subject matter expertise from pediatricians and other pediatric medical professionals to inform policy that impacts the health and well-being of children and families in Texas. Through continued education and engagement, this multidisciplinary team of associates, faculty and trainees strives to ensure the voices of all children are heard.
The Social Determinants of Health pillar works to promote projects aimed at reducing health inequities and empowering community well-being. It encompasses access to and quality of health care, education, economic opportunity, neighborhood prosperity and support services within a community.
As pediatricians and pediatric health care providers, the pillar understands that the environment in which a child is born, lives, plays and learns has a tremendous impact on quality of life and overall health trajectory. The pillar works to develop ways to screen for and respond to social determinants of health needs so families can connect to supportive resources both within and outside of the health care system. By collaborating with organizations and institutions in Central Texas that support projects which attempt to reduce health inequities, the pillar can better connect families with services and partners that strengthen our community so that each child has an opportunity to prosper.