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Impact Story

Investing in South Carolina Health Care for a Meaningful Impact

Great things happen when stakeholders, grantees and the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation work together to improve health care.

A report by the Foundation Strategy Group (FSG) highlights how the Foundation is making meaningful change by:

  • Creating connections for improved services.
  • Supporting innovation.
  • Assisting with access to data.
  • Guiding focus on preventive care.
  • Helping grantees make the most of their money.
  • Supporting work that affects policy change.
  • Serving as a partner and a leader.

The report is based on data from surveys and interviews of stakeholders and grantees.

Here are the findings:

1. Grantees are connecting with one another to offer improved services with Foundation support.

The Foundation connects organizations doing similar work and provides funds for them to work together to expand programs or provide new services. Half of the grantees surveyed reported working with other organizations more often after receiving Foundation funding.

“The Foundation is excellent at making strategic connections. … They can create synergy with partners,” said a grantee.

2. Foundation investments support health care innovation.

Innovation requires staff, time and technology. With Foundation support, grantees are improving their work with:

  • New programs.
  • Expansion of existing programs.
  • Data collection, analysis and sharing.
  • New communication methods.

Grant funds helped 42% of grantees offer new programs or services, and 52% said they are trying new ideas, thanks to their Foundation grants.

Grantees said having the basics — people, knowledge, time and technology — is vital to innovation. More than half of grantees reported their grants helped increase staff knowledge and capabilities.

In addition, several grantees said the Foundation helped get their organizations started.

“Our Foundation grants were instrumental in the launch of our organization. … The programs and initiatives we’ve launched fill a need for health services that are not being addressed,” said a grantee.

3. With Foundation support, grantees are using data to drive improvement.

Grant funds provide resources for grantees to use technology to collect and apply data to inform their work.

One grantee noted, “Our internal data systems are subpar at best. The grant forced us to acknowledge we must shore up our internal systems … to achieve the best results for our program participants.”

About 80% of grantees reported Foundation grants helped them increase the use of data for learning and improvement.

4. The Foundation is guiding grantees’ focus on prevention.

Grantees and stakeholders agreed a shift to prevention is necessary and ongoing. Preventive health care reduces disease and future costs, and it is the right thing to do ethically.

"We have to direct money to community needs and … shift to prevention. Acute care is [taking] all the resources,” said a stakeholder.

According to 73 percent of grantees, Foundation grants have guided their focus on preventive care services, enabling them to provide:

  • Health screenings.
  • Dental cleanings. 
  • Patient education.
  • Healthy food.

5. Grantees are making the most of private and public dollars with Foundation support.

According to grantees, Foundation support is a sign of credibility. That helps them secure additional support from public and private investors. They noted grant funds often hold them over until state reimbursement arrives.

“Without the support of our Foundation grant, it would be impossible for us to work with the state,” said a grantee.

The Foundation also works to find co-funding opportunities, such as its partnership with The Duke Endowment (TDE) and other funders throughout the state. This partnership provides greater funding and makes the grant application process easier. Grantees reported this is helping them meet their goals.

“We have had a lot of success in leveraging a terrific partnership between us, TDE and BlueCross,” a grantee said.

6. The Foundation serves as a partner and a leader.

Grantees praised the Foundation staff’s availability and said they are always answering questions, helping them solve problems and connecting them with others who can help.

“The Foundation has collaborated on getting people in the room and getting traction around the issues. We would not be where we are without Foundation funding,” said a grantee.

Stakeholders and grantees described the Foundation as a thought leader, connection facilitator and advocate.

So, with these successes in mind, what’s next?

As the sole statewide health funder in South Carolina, the Foundation has made significant contributions to support the health and well-being of South Carolinians.

Though there is more work to be done. Mental health is a critical issue in the state. Health challenges are systemic. Some subgroups face factors that prevent them from getting the help they need. There is still a lack of basic health services for many.

The Foundation will continue to address these issues and use FSG findings to sharpen its focus and further its role as a state leader.