Drive visibility and value with third party credibility

Building awareness of a public/private partnership with national media relations


A well known Chicago foundation wanted to help solve an inner-city healthcare economics issue that pertains to the “Safety Net” population and coordinated care within communities and healthcare facilities.

Medicaid patients on the South Side of Chicago could typically see a number of healthcare providers in one month, each provider not fully understanding the reasons and outcomes for all other visits whether they were made to a ER, a hospital, the patient’s primary care physician or a Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC).


There was not yet an established solution to this well-documented problem of population health management at the state and federal levels. The Comer Science and Education Foundation knew the city and other state, FQHC, and health system leaders were watching. They needed a savvy solution that combined public and private minds to develop, use and measure the technology that could help connect disparate healthcare organizations and data to create a network where providers, care teams and patients coordinated care within a specific population.


A national media relations plan was developed for the launch of this public-private partnership health start-up that was an online portal.

We first created and packaged the organization’s narrative and storylines after interviewing its stakeholders. A methodology of Ballast’s is using credible third parties to tell a client’s story so the client doesn’t have to. We then coached these parties on relevant points and why people would care.

Third parties included leaders and health management consultants, Department of Health & Family Services, providers, clinics and hospital CEOs, informed-consent patients and the organizations CEO. All were trained to speak on behalf of Medical Home Network (MHN), the portal’s technology, collaborative objectives, and the moving targets of health reform.

We managed PR efforts with the State and analyzed competitive intelligence on comparisons to other national Safety Net population health status models. All of these initiatives best positioned MHN for its launch and cementing critical relationships nationwide.


All media relations objectives were surpassed with pieces including:

  • a national story in the Associated Press that was picked up in other cities
  • a national trade publication story in Health Leaders Inter-Study on health plans
  • a story in The Chicago Tribune, a major metropolitan paper that is syndicated to three other U.S. cities in Maryland, Florida and California
  • a guest blog post on Illinois Health Matters

PR efforts generated national awareness for MHN and assisted the organization with tools to pursue additional grant funding, health provider expansion, recognition at Federal levels and also by the prestigious Healthcare Advisory Board.

Additional elements of the plan secured third party endorsements such as the partnership between MHN and the State. DHFS participated in MHN’s pre-launch and portal launch press releases and interviews.

Media relationships were also established with Crain’s (DC and Chicago), Modern Healthcare, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, AARP, Kaiser Health News, Becker’s Hospital Review, Hospitals and Health Networks, Healthcare Informatics and Health Data Management.

Today MHN is self sustainable. It continued to receive funding and expanded to include a separately branded commercial technology to license beyond it’s original use for Medicaid patients and Safety Net hospitals establishing itself as a proven technology within the care coordination industry.