SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Futuro Health, a nonprofit organization with a mission to grow the number of credentialed allied health workers to meet the high demand, is marking its one-year anniversary this month with first-year enrollment figures that exceeded expectations amid the pandemic. The organization plans to focus on the rising behavioral health needs in its second year. More than one-quarter of adults in the U.S. experience some type of behavioral health disorder in a given year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That could include alcohol use, substance use or other behaviors that impact an individual's well-being. COVID-19 could result in a potential 50 percent increase in the prevalence of behavioral health conditions based on a recent analysis by McKinsey & Company.
Futuro Health launched in January 2020 with a $130 million commitment from Kaiser Permanente and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) to grow the nation's supply of credentialed allied health workers, starting in California. Allied health workers are one of the largest worker contingents in healthcare with occupations that include medical assistants, care coordinators, telehealth coordinators and health IT workers, to name a few. The state alone will need an estimated 500,000 allied healthcare workers by 2024. Futuro Health's goal is to graduate 10,000 new licensed and/or credentialed allied healthcare workers by 2024.
"As the pandemic surges, the need for good, well-trained healthcare workers who reflect the communities they serve has never been greater," said Dave Regan, chair of the Futuro Health board and president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West. "Futuro Health and its partners exceeded their recruitment goals in 2020, and it could not have come at a better time."
The results are due, in part, to a unique ecosystem of partners cultivated by Futuro Health that allows for more agile execution of workforce development strategies – creating better-paying jobs for diverse workers, better care for patients, and better workers for employers to hire.In its first year of operation, Futuro Health provided tuition-free opportunities for 1,691 students and workers, most new to healthcare, including some who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and California fires. Enrollment surpassed the first-year goal of serving 1,500 students in training programs that lead to a credential, including Medical Assistant, Advanced Telehealth Coordinator, Care Coordinator and Health IT Specialist. Futuro Health also trained frontline healthcare workers and licensed vocational nurses/licensed practical nurses in pandemic readiness in more than 20 states and still offers this online course at no cost to the healthcare community.
"We are pleased to bring equity into healthcare through Futuro Health and to be able to offer local communities the opportunity to train for in-demand careers in healthcare," said Janet Liang, executive vice president, group president and chief operating officer for Kaiser Permanente. "Futuro Health's focus on training behavioral health care providers is especially important to Kaiser Permanente because of our 75-year mission to support total health, in mind, body and spirit."
Eighty-five percent of Futuro Health's students are female, with an average age of 35, of whom 87% are diverse, and 34% of all students speak a language in addition to English, reflecting the organization's commitment to building a workforce for all communities.
"We care about creating opportunity," said Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. "We've brought together an ecosystem of quality partners who share in that purpose and look forward to combining our strengths to address the mental health issues likely arising from this pandemic."
A key area of focus for Year 2 is the rising need in mental and behavioral health. Behavioral health refers to how an individual's well-being is impacted by physical and mental behaviors, while mental health focuses on an individual's psychological state. In addition to the McKinsey report about increased behavioral health conditions, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported 45 percent of Americans felt the COVID-19 crisis is harming their mental health.
Three of Futuro Health's six new planned training offerings in 2021 acknowledge the looming behavioral health crisis and need for increased behavioral health services: Community Health Worker with a Behavioral Health Emphasis, Care Coordinator with a Behavioral Health Emphasis, and Behavioral Health coursework to upskill existing credentialed healthcare workers. These programs are being offered by accredited higher education institution partners.
Community health workers, cited by California employers and experts as currently being the most important healthcare position at the sub-baccalaureate level, are trusted members of the communities they serve. Among their duties, community health workers provide culturally appropriate health education and information, help people get the care they need and support patients to follow their care plans, dramatically increasing health outcomes. Community health workers trained in behavioral health are critical during this time of pandemic, as millions of Californians are experiencing depression, anxiety and are abusing substances for the first time.
Care coordinators work in a healthcare setting and help patients through the complex elements of healthcare, serving as the connection between the patient and medical and administrative staff. They monitor and coordinate patients' treatment plans, educate them about their health condition, connect them with healthcare providers and evaluate their progress.
Futuro Health improves the health and wealth of communities by growing the largest network of credentialed allied health workers in the nation starting in California. We believe investing in education and skills training and retraining results in better-paying jobs for workers, better service for patients and better workers for employers to hire. Kaiser Permanente and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) partnered to establish Futuro Health in January 2020 with a $130 million commitment.