New Primary Care Finder Tool in Philadelphia
August 29, 2022
This month the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) launched a new "primary care finder" tool available on phila.gov. The web-based tool aims to connect Philadelphians with free or low-cost medical care. According to a report from 2018 released by PDPH, about one in six residents of Philadelphia does not have a primary care physician they see regularly.
The tool is free to the public and accessible via a desktop web browser or a mobile browser. It includes providers that serve individuals regardless of their insurance or financial status, condition, age, or legal documentation status.
Users of the tool can also see the nearest public transit options, insurance and cost estimates, operation hours, and contact information for each provider.
Before the tool was launched, Ana Martinez-Donate, PhD, professor of community health and prevention at the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH), and Mariana Lazo, MD, PhD, ScM, associate research professor at DSPH, served as consultants and liaisons between the tool development team and the Philadelphia Latino Health Collective, which they lead.
"We really appreciated the effort by the PDPH to consult with the Latino Health Collective to ensure this tool would be helpful to Latino communities in Philadelphia. This type of dialogue between health departments and community stakeholders is critical to reduce health disparities." - Ana Martinez-Donate, PhD
The Philadelphia Latino Health Collective was founded by Martinez-Donate in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Hispanic communities.
The Collective gathers policymakers, public health professionals, city officials, and representatives from 40+ different Latino-serving organizations monthly to identify important issues, create solutions, and share resources to help alleviate them.
To ensure the needs of Latino and other diverse communities in Philadelphia were met with this tool, the Collective invited PDPH to present their prototype during a monthly meeting in order to gather useful feedback and recommendations to improve the user experience.
The Collective's suggestions included:
- Using simpler language
- Updating the tool frequently
- Having an ambassador or community member to explain why having a primary health doctor is important and spread the word about why the tool is useful
- Having a plan in place so that communities know how to access the tool
"We really appreciated the effort by the PDPH to consult with the Latino Health Collective to ensure this tool would be helpful to Latino communities in Philadelphia. This type of dialogue between health departments and community stakeholders is critical to reduce health disparities," said Martinez-Donate.
After providing recommendations for the tool, the Collective helped PDPH identify Latino community members who could partake in a focus group to provide additional feedback and suggestions for further improvement.
The Latino Health Collective has been instrumental in helping to advertise this tool and promote its use among the Latino community.
On August 17, 2022, Martinez-Donate joined Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole and other representatives from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Health Federation of Philadelphia to announce the tool at Philadelphia City Hall. She has also been quoted in local media discussing the tool.
Explore the primary care finder now