United Health Foundation Partners with Morehouse School of Medicine to Expand Access to Digital Health Technologies for Rural and Underserved Communities

  • Three-year, $1.1 million grant will support research into health care provider and patient access and usage of digital health technologies in rural and underserved communities across Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee

  • Goal is to help health professionals and residents leverage digital tools to better address key health care challenges, including diabetes and maternal mortality

morehouse digital health grant

UnitedHealth Group’s Cory Alexander joins U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie (KY), Dr. Sandra Harris-Hooker, Morehouse School of Medicine, U.S. Representative David Scott (GA), and Dr. Bennie Harris, Morehouse School of Medicine to announce a new partnership between the United Health Foundation and the Morehouse School of Medicine (Credit: Mark West)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — 

The United Health Foundation on Thursday announced a new partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine’s National Center for Primary Care to examine how digital tools could be leveraged to support underserved and rural communities in four Southeastern states. The partnership is funded through a three-year, $1.1 million grant and will support scientific research examining how to make digital health technology more accessible and useful for residents of urban and rural underserved communities across Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The goals of the partnership are:

  • Improve the understanding of rural and underserved residents’ access to digital programs through their providers;
  • Confirm that digital tools (e.g. electronic health records, telemedicine, and wearables like fitbit, etc.) could help address health disparities these residents face; and
  • Develop an action plan to improve access to digital tools for these communities.

Across the four Southeastern states, Morehouse School of Medicine researchers within the National Center for Primary Care will hold focus groups and conduct individual interviews with local health care providers; survey hundreds of health professionals; and examine Medicaid claims data within each state.

“We can’t think of a better partner than Morehouse School of Medicine. We are honored to learn from their expertise, understanding and ability to build healthier communities,” said Cory B. Alexander, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs, UnitedHealth Group. “This partnership demonstrates the United Health Foundation’s and Morehouse School of Medicine’s shared commitment to pioneering the next generation of digital health solutions that will expand access to care and  improve health outcomes for underserved patients and support primary care providers across the Southeast.”

This is the latest partnership between Morehouse School of Medicine and UnitedHealth Group. Morehouse School of Medicine received a previous grant from the United Health Foundation to help build health systems and technology for a local clinic, and is part of UnitedHealth Group’s partnership with the Atlanta University Center Consortium, along with three other historically Black universities, focused on educating and training the next generation of health analytics workers.

“With $21 million in funding, MSM’s National Center for Primary Care has assisted more than 5,000 primary care providers and rural hospitals in Georgia to adopt and meaningfully use electronic health records,” said Dominic Mack, Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Director, National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine. “Morehouse School of Medicine is uniquely positioned to conduct this research by virtue of our deep roots providing education and technical support for electronic health records, health information exchange and CMS value-based payment initiatives and we look forward to working with the United Health Foundation once again.”

About the United Health Foundation

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, the United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. The United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, the United Health Foundation has committed $430 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at www.unitedhealthgroup.com/SocialResponsibility

About Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)

Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), located in Atlanta, Georgia, was founded in 1975 as a two-year Medical Education Program at Morehouse College with clinical training affiliations with several established medical schools for awarding the M.D. degree. In 1981, MSM became an independently chartered institution and the first medical school established at a Historically Black College and University in the 20th century. MSM is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians and was recently recognized as the top institution among U.S. medical schools for our social mission. Our faculty and alumni are noted in their fields for excellence in teaching, research, and public policy, and are known in the community for exceptional, culturally appropriate patient care.

Morehouse School of Medicine is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctorate and master’s degrees.

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United Health Foundation Partners with Morehouse School of Medicine to Expand Access to Digital Health Technologies for Rural and Underserved Communities