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UnitedHealthcare, HOPE Family Health Partner to Improve Health Outcomes in Rural Tennessee

Clinical pharmacist Lindsey Watson jumped at the chance to work with patients in her rural hometown of Westmoreland, Tennessee, knowing firsthand the health needs of the community.

“When I saw the position for a clinical pharmacist here, I knew I just had to apply,” Lindsey said. “This is my community, so I was really excited to be able to serve the patients and the people where I grew up.”

In her new role, embedded in HOPE Family Health, she has direct access to the patients she serves, working side-by-side with the providers to optimize their treatment plans and medication-related outcomes.

“I’m looking for things like drug-drug interactions and drug-food interactions. I help patients figure out the best time of day to take their medications,” she said. “If they’re having side effects, we look at trying different medications that might not have as many side effects. So, working in tandem with their primary care provider, really looking at the whole picture and figuring out the best medications for the patient.”

The effort to improve health outcomes in middle Tennessee is thanks to a partnership between UnitedHealthcare and HOPE Family Health, supported by a three-year, $1 million grant from United Health Foundation.

HOPE is a Federally Qualified Health Center and the only faith-based nonprofit health center of its kind in this rural region of middle Tennessee, not far from the state’s boarder with Kentucky. It treats patients in areas of Tennessee where approximately 13% of residents under age 65 are uninsured and 18% of adults and families live in poverty. Obesity and inactivity — already leading health concerns across Tennessee — exceed state averages in the communities HOPE serves.

In 2005, HOPE opened its doors with a mission to improve access to medical and mental health care in rural middle Tennessee with an emphasis on vulnerable populations. Today, it provides primary care, integrated behavioral health, access to dental care and on-site pharmacy with more than 1,200 patient encounters each month.

“I really just started envisioning a different kind of health care facility,” said CEO Jennifer Dittes, a physician assistant and co-founder of HOPE Family Health. “I could see a place that was just welcoming to everybody, regardless of anyone’s insurance or whether they had money to pay for it.”

Lindsey and Jennifer, or Jenny as colleagues and patients call her, recently welcomed Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, local officials, community supporters and patients to the clinic to celebrate the new partnership between HOPE Family Health and UnitedHealthcare.

Gov. Lee was outspoken in his praise for the innovative partnership to embed clinical pharmacy services within the primary-care setting.

“What’s happening with the United Health Foundation and this clinic is exactly what needs to be happening all over the state and all over the country,” he said.

Watch this video for more information about the partnership and its goals to improve health outcomes by optimizing patients’ treatment plans and medication-related outcomes.