Implementation and Impact of an Online Tool Used in Primary Care to Improve Income Security

2016-11-10 09:38:21 | BioPortfolio


We will evaluate the acceptability, feasibility and impact of an online tool that helps patients identify financial benefits that they are entitled to at six clinic sites over a three month period. We will answer the following questions: Is an online tool that addresses income security feasible and acceptable to clinicians? Can such a tool be integrated into regular clinic workflow? What is the patient perspective on the tool and what is the short-term impact?


Addressing the social determinants of health of patients has been identified as a key way to achieve health system goals. However, few evidence-based interventions exist. This study emerges from an ongoing collaboration between family physicians, researchers and a charitable financial literacy organization. This study aims to answer the following questions: Is an online tool that addresses income security feasible and acceptable to clinicians? Can such a tool be integrated into regular clinic workflow? What is the patient perspective on the tool and what is the short-term impact? We will recruit six primary care sites in Toronto and Winnipeg that serve low-income communities. We will introduce clinicians to screening for poverty and increasing access to additional income sources via government benefits. Following an initial orientation session, health providers will be encouraged to use the tool with any patient seen. The health provider and patient will complete the online tool together, generating a tailored list of financial benefits, along with local community resources to assist with obtaining these benefits. A brief survey on this experience will be administered to patients after they complete the tool, as well as a request to contact them in one month. Those who agree to be contacted will be interviewed on whether the intervention impacted their knowledge and ability to access benefits. We will administer an online survey to providers and conduct provider focus groups at each site at the end of study. An advisory group made up of patients living on low incomes and representatives from community agencies will support this study. An online tool could help health providers in improving the income security of their patients. Strengths of this study include that it involves a diverse set of clinics and that the tool has been implemented pragmatically, in the real world of busy primary care clinics. Limitations include the convenience sampling method, that the selected clinics may not be representative of all primary care providers and the relatively short follow-up period. Our findings will provide insight into the potential of electronic tools that assist providers address the social determinants of health.

Study Design

Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Health Services Research


Social Determinants of Health


online income tool


Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba
R3E 3P5




St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2016-11-10T09:38:21-0500

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