Innovation in Action


As the nonprofit partner to the NYC Health Department, the Fund has deployed its nimble operations and adroit fundraising to help launch innovative initiatives which have resulted in improved health for millions of New Yorkers.

Obtained an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant to improve foodborne outbreak detection using social media data.

Social media is an outlet for all kinds of complaints, including those about suspected food poisoning at restaurants. The Sloan Foundation has funded a collaborative project between the NYC Health Department and Columbia University to evaluate the use of social media data, such as Yelp and Twitter, to detect foodborne outbreaks that are not identified through traditional complaint systems such as 3-1-1. Computer scientists at Columbia University have developed and continue to improve a system that follows a machine learning approach—using statistical analysis and predictive analytics to recognize patterns in data—to identify Yelp reviews or tweets that indicate a foodborne illness. The NYC Health Department has integrated the results of this system into its outbreak detection and investigation efforts to decrease the significant health and financial impact of foodborne illness. To aid foodborne detection around the country, the Health Department plans to share the findings of this project with other health departments that may be interested in implementing a similar system.

Procured private grants that underwrote enhancements to a nationally accredited program for new parents in NYC.

First-time, low-income mothers often need extra support to ensure healthy outcomes for their babies and themselves. The NYC Nurse-Family Partnership provides that support. Specially trained nurses visit a client’s home throughout her pregnancy and until her child is two years old. Provided at no cost, program services have resulted in improvements in education and economic self-sufficiency as well as in health status. Grants secured by the Fund have contributed to a number of enhancements to the evidence-based program, including resources to support education and training for some of the mothers and specialized support for higher risk families of women in the foster care system or recently incarcerated. The NYC Nurse-Family Partnership has become one of the first in the county to employ its own mental health providers.

Garnered over $250,000 in grants to improve health through design of the built environment.

The environment in which people live, learn, work, and play has a major impact on people’s ability to stay healthy, affecting what they eat and drink and how active they are. Active Design Guidelines offer evidence-based strategies that architects, urban designers, planners, and real estate professionals can use to design and adapt buildings, streets, and urban spaces to increase opportunities for physical activity. In New York City, the NYC Health Department worked with a partnership of government agencies, professional organizations, and various private sector, community, and academic institutions to develop and disseminate these comprehensive strategies. Since being published in 2010, the guidelines have won multiple awards, and more than 2,000 architects, planners, designers, students, developers, building owners and managers, and community leaders around the country have been trained to use them.

Provided funding to support and promote high quality primary care for patients across NYC.

New Yorkers living with low incomes, language barriers, or chronic disease such as high blood pressure or diabetes face many challenges to receiving health care that is coordinated and addresses their specific health needs. The NYC Health Department’s Primary Care Information Project (PCIP) promotes the use of health information technology that enables health care providers to improve the delivery of primary care, especially to residents living in underserved areas of the city. The award-winning PCIP educates health care providers on how to use health information systems to deliver patient-centered, coordinated care. For example, electronic health records (EHRs) allow providers’ staff to be proactive in scheduling timely follow-up visits instead of waiting for patients to call. PCIP created a population health tool called the ”Hub,” which enables PCIP to share data entered into EHRs with doctors as well as gather data for helping the Health Department develop new programs. One of the Fund’s grant awards created the NYC Regional Electronic Adoption Center for Health (NYC REACH) to supply technical assistance services to more than 18,000 health care providers, including the implementation of health information technology at practices throughout the city. NYC REACH served as the foundation for PCIP’s current efforts to facilitate practice change and increase the delivery of preventive care as part of federal and state payment reforms.

Received a “Health Care Innovation Award” of nearly $10 million to test a new care model for patients with Hepatitis C.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded the grant to enable the NYC Health Department to implement Project INSPIRE, an innovative program designed to improve health outcomes, increase cure rates, and reduce hospitalizations for high needs patients with Hepatitis C. The comprehensive care coordination effort united a number of health care approaches and health professionals to provide integrated and interdisciplinary care to address all medical and psychosocial factors relevant to the individual patient. These included medical and behavioral assessments, specialist referrals, telemedicine consults, provider training, coordination among care team members, patient navigation through the care process, and coaching on self-sufficiency skills.

Acquired $17.6 million in federal funds for innovative alternatives to hospitalization for individuals in emotional crisis.

Emergency care and hospitalization for severe psychiatric distress is costly. Parachute NYC provides alternative care and treatment through home-based and respite center services and confidential peer support. By the end of the project’s three-year funding period, it had become the first large-scale implementation of mobile teams and respite centers in the world for people experiencing emotional crises. It offers community-based options that focus on overall wellness, recovery, and hope. During the three years’ funding, Parachute NYC launched four Need Adapted Mobile Crisis Teams and four Crisis Respite Centers each in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The project also established a citywide 24-hour peer support line. Watch the Parachute NYC video.

Joined in a partnership to launch the New York City Population Health Improvement Program (PHIP).

In January 2015, the Fund for Public Health in New York City joined in partnership with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the United Hospital Fund and The New York Academy of Medicine to launch the New York City Population Health Improvement Program (PHIP). Learn about the NYC PHIP.