San Diego health clinic teams up with local helpline for mobility support

  • Author: Laurel Schwartz
  • Date: January 4, 2024

UC San Diego Health found that patients struggled to get to follow-up appointments. While their city has many resources, patients had trouble getting connected with services. A pilot with San Diego’s 211 phone service seeks to solve that challenge.

San Diego’s 211 information line was first established in its current form in 2005, when the County’s existing INFO LINE, a non-profit, started taking calls on the 2-1-1 information line established by the Federal Communications Commission.  In 2007, the San Diego region was ravaged by a series of wildfires, burning almost 200,000 acres, and forcing 500,000 people to evacuate their homes. As the region recovered, residents called 211 for non-emergency information, establishing the service as a central resource for a person-centered model of referral to care.

“211 San Diego’s mission is to connect people to resources and to partner with our community to transform how people access help,” said William York, president and chief executive officer of 211 San Diego.

Today, 211 expanded into the Community Information Exchange (CIE) and is partnering with regional organizations and leveraging data tools to connect the area’s residents with accurate information and resources. As CIE expanded, the organization recognized a growing need to transport residents who were discharged from the hospital UC San Diego Health’s hospital, and who needed support getting to follow-up appointments.

“The collaborative effort between UC San Diego Health, 211 San Diego/CIE and CIE partners, will allow us to identify the social needs of patients. Then, using innovative technology, we can seamlessly connect our patients to needed resources,” explained Dr. Christopher Longhurst, chief medical officer and chief digital officer at UC San Diego Health.

The program, which is currently being offered as a pilot, connects patients who do not have transportation to and from UC San Diego Health’s hospital with one of more than 410 services offered by CIE’s partners. As a nonprofit organization, most of CIE’s budget comes from grants and contracts with partners, though their programs are also supported by private contributions.

“The overall goal is to provide proactive, patient-centered care and advance equity for patients in our health system,” said Donna Beifus, chief administrative officer for care management at UC San Diego Health.

Since before the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, San Diego has faced an increasing strain on its emergency rooms, and a shortage of paramedics. Programs like this have the capacity to help ease the strain on more expensive emergency services.


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