Help desks are resource centers, often staffed by trained volunteers, that help health care systems address patients' social needs - needs like housing instability, food insecurity, and financial instability. Once needs are identified, patients may receive assistance from volunteers, social workers or legal aid partners on a wide range of topics. These can include applying for public benefits or overturning benefits denials (benefits can be things like food stamps, housing or health insurance); finding health care providers or affordable childcare; or identifying other community resources.
Help desk staff offer regular telephone follow-up to help ensure that patient needs are met. Ideally, Help desk activities are integrated into clinical workflows so that social needs assessment and resource assistance are made a routine part of clinical care.
By adopting a Help desk model that combines the resources of multiple, regional institutions, the Consortium increases efficiency and reduces cost, improves innovation dissemination, deepens evaluation capacity, assures sustainability, and increases influence with payers and policy-makers.