Thoughts on Personal Connection and SDOH from BeneLynk’s Director of Business Technology

The following is a transcript of a recent talk given by Geoff Thomas, BeneLynk's Director of Business Technology to a national organization. In it, Geoff talks about the challenge of loss of connection to our fellow humans, and his passion for addressing that challenge at BeneLynk.

Remember the last time you looked up? It was probably around 2007.  That’s when the first smart phone hit the market.  We’ve been looking down ever since.  This was/is technology that truly impacted our lives.  The first time I recall technology having that level of impact was the Apollo 11 landing on the moon and Neil Armstrong saying his iconic phrase, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” At that moment, the entire nation was connected.

Are we still connected? Smart phones have superior communications capability beyond what the Apollo 11 had by several orders of magnitude, yet we seem more disconnected from each other.  After all, smart phones are pretty much a solo act. The few moments we do connect with one another are usually online.  That is, if you’re lucky enough to get online.  According to a Pew Research Center study, about 10% of Americans have no access to the internet.  If you’re over 65, that number jumps to 27% (10% Of Americans Don't Use the Internet. Who Are They?).  Unfortunately, many of these disconnected seniors fall in the 12% of our population who are below the Federal Poverty Level (Poverty Rate Drops For Third Consecutive Year in 2017 U.S. Census Bureau). 

These are people who have to ask daily, “Do I take my medication, or do I eat? Do I eat or pay my electric bill? Do I pay my electric bill, or do I avoid eviction?”

There is help for this population.  All they need to do is go online and… Oh, wait! That’s right. No internet.  Hypothetically, let’s assume they could get access to the internet. Let’s say they can navigate to a site that provides needed social services. In most areas around the country there are hundreds and often thousands of programs available. That’s not help, that’s overwhelming. What will help?

At Benelynk, we’re leveraging technology to identify and locate people in need of services. Then we do something truly innovative, we call them.  We make a personal connection to help guide them through the plethora of services available. Our advocates can get people signed up for the services they need, such as Medicaid, SNAP and any number of social programs quickly and confidently. We serve the Veteran population in Medicare Advantage to resolve gaps in medical care and coverage received at Veterans Administration (VA) facilities.

Making that personal connection makes all the difference in the world. Our Advocates are trained to ask intelligent questions and navigate through often complex enrollment processes. Being that second set of eyes allows us to eliminate the frustration and significantly reduce the time it takes to successfully enroll people into needed services quickly and confidently. It is that connection that is BeneLynk’s small step to a giant leap for those in need.