Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Big Picture - June 2013

This post is part of a monthly series published on the fourth Thursday of every month. It provides an overview of themes and topics from the general meetings and committee meetings of the Ryan White Planning Council and HIV Prevention Planning Group each month. To view meeting materials and presentations, please visit

Ryan White Planning Council (RWPC)

Due to a crazy weather situation that never actually happened, the RWPC and RWPC Nominations Committee meetings were both canceled this month.  Three of the RWPC's committees did still meet, though.

RWPC members Lupe, Gary, and Gerry setting priorities
The Comprehensive Planning Committee met to begin its process for setting service priorities for the 2014 fiscal year.  Each service category was scored using five factors: payer of last resort, consumer survey data, impact on the care continuum, unmet need data, and designation as an Essential Health Benefit (EHB) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The group was able to score all of the services in just one meeting.  They'll talk about the draft list at their next meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 10 and then present the list to the RWPC for a vote at their July meeting.

Meanwhile, the Finance Committee met to continue discussions on its FY2014 allocations process.  We were joined by AIDS Activities Coordinating Office (AACO) staff, and the group had a lengthy talk about the type of data they would like to consider.  It will be a challenging year for planning allocations, since the fiscal year will coincide with the beginning of most parts of the Affordable Care Act.  They ultimately created a list of data that they planned to look at in order to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different services.

The Positive Committee had a special presentation from Philadelphia FIGHT in honor of AIDS Education Month.  They discussed HIV myths and facts, and received information on various services.  They also reviewed their new committee brochure.

Prevention Planning Group (PPG)

June marked the last official meeting of the PPG.  They'll be officially replaced by the HIV Prevention Planning Group (HPG) starting on July 1.  This month, a small review panel met to discuss applications for HPG membership.  They recommended a pool of applicants for the new HPG.  After this, the PPG met for the last time.  We were joined by our CDC project officer, Angie Alvarado.  Community co-chair Jen Chapman gave a fantastic overview of HIV prevention planning, including updates from the Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (UCHAPS) and a recent HPG Bootcamp.  We thank the PPG members for their service, and look forward to working with the new HPG starting on Wednesday, July 24.

Points of Integration Workgroup

Members from both the care and prevention planning bodies come together for the Points of Integration Workgroup.  Like each of the committees, they've been giving a lot of thought to the treatment cascade and its implications for Philadelphia.  A few months ago, they chose to focus on the "linkage to care" aspect - getting people that test positive for HIV into medical care right away.  They think that having the HIV tester ask questions about "treatment readiness" at the time of the test might help us to get new positives into care.  At their last meeting, the group started to look at different models for these types of assessments, including the Anti-Retroviral Treatment and Access to Services (ARTAS) model.

This is an exciting time to get involved in community planning for the Philadelphia area. To learn more, follow the links in this post, attend one of the meetings listed on our calendar, or email to find out how to get involved. If you have questions, you can also call us at 215-574-6760.

Friday, June 21, 2013

4 Updates to Facebook and More Social Media News for Nonprofits and HIV Programs

After talking with different HIV programs about social media, I've heard quite a few themes.  One of them is that people don't know where to start.  I addressed that in my presentation at the Prevention and Outreach Summit,  and I'll talk about that more in the future.  Another problem: everything keeps changing, and providers can't keep up.  As a way of reducing barriers (see what I did there?), I'm starting a new series with updates on social media news. 

And now, the biggest news from the past week:

Facebook is changing, yet again.  Surprise, surprise.

  • Facebook has hashtags now, joining the ranks of Instagram and Twitter.  Right now they're being grossly overused and are already slightly obnoxious, but they'll be useful once Facebook users calm down a little bit.  The key to using hashtags on your fan page is to stick to one or two that are directly relevant to your post.  That way, people who are searching for those words will be able to find your content. 
  • People are Talking About This (PTAT) is going away, but it's being replaced by something bigger and better.  Facebook Insights were already pretty powerful for a free analytics tool for your fan page, but now they'll be breaking PTAT out to be more specific - so you'll get a better gauge on what actions your fans are taking.  (The 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study talks about this - pohtos get more likes, shares, and comments, but links, share, and video posts get more clicks.  Now you'll get to see this clearly in your insights.)  My favorite new feature is the detailed information you'll get on actions from your fans, by demographic.  Fantastic way to see if you're reaching your target, especially for public health organizations.  Get the full story over at Mashable.
  • You can now leave photos in comments.  This will probably have some practical applications, but I'm mostly thinking of the fun ones.  Like public health memes.
  • Some fan pages are now able to change the thumbnail photo posted alongside links placed in status updates.  You might have this on your fan page already - it's still rolling out.  If you do, you'll have an "upload photo" link under the thumbnail.  This is great if the one photo on the page you're posting a link to is an ad or something else you know your fans won't want to look at.

Facebook rolls updates out almost constantly, so you can expect lots more in the future.

Instagram gets video

Yesterday, to much anticipation, Facebook made a huge announcement for Instagram.  (In case you didn't know, Facebook bought Instagram a couple of years ago.)  The new feature will allow for 15-second videos, and a choice of thirteen different filters.  It will also have video stabilization, which sounds handy.  It's a pretty obvious bid to stay competitive with Twitter's popular 6-second video-sharing app, Vine.  Read more about it on Instagram's blog.

Social media posts from around the web

I comb through quite a few of these regularly.  These are the most useful posts I found for nonprofits, public health organizations, and HIV programs this week.
Have you learned anything new and exciting about social media this week?  Comment below.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Health Reform and HIV Providers: Part 2

The presentation below was given by Ann Ricksecker (Planning Council member and PA/MidAtlantic AETC staff) and myself at the PA HIV Provider Capacity Building Training on June 18, 2013. The purpose of the presentation is to provide some basic background on the ACA and  practical steps for organizations to prepare for the future of the Ryan White Program. Thanks to the  TARGET Center for providing some great materials to work from, especially the 6 steps.

If this is your first visit to our blog, you may want to check out my previous posts on some of the important issues covered in this presentation like: payer of last resort, providers' roles in health reform, and health reform resources. You need to have a background in health reform in order to get the most from this slides.  I will be creating a web-based presentation with audio for these steps as well, so stay tuned.

During this presentation a few questions came up that I needed to do some more research before I could answer. I decided to share those questions and my answers here. If you have questions, let me know in the comments and I'll post a follow up ASAP.

Question 1: Contracting with an insurance company is sometimes difficult and time consuming. What steps can an organization take to make it easier/more efficient?

Here's a good example from Kevin Moore of the AIDS Care Group about the difficulties some will face in dealing with health insurance companies. Here are some ways you may get some help if you run into a dead end:

1. Call your state insurance department and see what assistance they can provide. (PA, NJ)

2. Call your state's insurance marketplace to get some help facilitating the relationship with the insurer. At this time I couldn't find any contacts for either NJ or PA's marketplaces.  (Both PA and NJ will have federally-facilitated Marketplaces.)

3. Call a provider who is on the insurance plan and ask for a contact person in that agency's contract office. Then ask for a contact with the insurer who will actually help. 

I'm sure there are other options. Anybody have another option that worked?

Question 2:  Will case managers be expected to help consumers pick a health plan? Do case managers have a role in the state insurance marketplaces?

Short answer: Yes! 

Case managers already help people get enrolled in health insurance. Enrolling in a Marketplace plan is just another option. HRSA has been very clear that Ryan White providers are expected and encouraged to help consumers with eligibility and enrollment, including consumer education about health insurance and health reform. In the end, consumers are responsible for picking the appropriate health plan for their individual needs, but case managers and other providers will need to be available to help with those decisions. If the Ryan White provider is not staffed or resourced to provide this assistance, then a referral should be made to a local resource that can provide the required level of support and guidance.

The 4 E's are the latest buzzwords: education (about health reform), eligibility (for public and private insurance options), enrollment (in public and private insurance) and engagement (in care). Consumers will be looking to their case managers and medical providers for answers about insurance and eligibility. To learn more about consumer outreach and enrollment check out the resources at Enroll, America.

Question 3: What opportunities are there for community-based organizations in the era of coordinated care and health homes? 

There are opportunities for CBOs in this new world. CBOs have skills and services that support and promote whole-person care like cultural competency and care coordination (case management).  You can become a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or form a cooperative agreement with a FQHC. Either option would allow for the possibility of either becoming a Primary Care Medical Home or a Medicaid Health Home (which are essentially the same thing. Primary Care Medical Home (PCMH) is the general term and the Medicaid Health Home is a type of PCMH.).  

Here is a great step-by-step guide for CBOs to integrate with health homes.

You can download the slides from the webinar for much more detail on how (and why) to integrate with a clinical provider: Pathways to Collaboration
Integrating with a clinical site is just one option for sustainability. We will explore other options in future posts.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What on earth is HIV planning, anyway?

We do it, the health department does it, the community does it, and providers do it.  HIV planning is pretty much our bread and butter around here - we are, after all, the Office of HIV Planning.  But what does that mean?  (Hint: no, we don't plan HIV.)

Ok, give me the details.

Every year, our area gets money directly from the federal government to help with the cost of HIV care and prevention in the Philadelphia area.  (For care, this money covers Philly and eight surrounding counties.  Prevention money is just for Philly.)  The feds know that each city has different needs, so they ask every city to come up with its own plan for how they'll spend the money.  That's where community planning comes in.  We have one group that works on the care side (the Ryan White Planning Council, or RWPC), and one group that deals with prevention (soon to be the HIV Prevention Planning Group, or HPG).  Both groups meet here at the Office of HIV Planning.

Great, but what do they do?

For starters, they have a lot of meetings in our office.  Each planning body has its own monthly meetings, plus committees to deal with specific issues or processes.  Who comes to these meetings, you ask? At least two of our own staff, plus planning body members, HIV service providers, health department staff, and community members (including people living with HIV/AIDS).  What's the point of all these meetings? To plan HIV services in our area.

The topics covered in each meeting vary, but they all have the ultimate goal of making HIV services better and more effective.  We talk about the needs of the community, and sometimes we do surveys or focus groups to get more information.  Other times we talk about the services and how they work.  We also try to stay up to date on the latest news on funding, federal and local policy, and more.  Our office takes the discussion from the meetings and works along with the health department to work some magic.  We document the meetings, do research, and otherwise get a lot of the legwork done so the planning bodies can focus on making educated decisions.  Then we bring our work back to whichever group requested it, so they can use that information as they plan the services.

Sounds like you've got this under control.  Why do you need me?

Ah, thank you.  Here's the thing:  we can do research until the end of time, but it's not the same as getting real input from people that live and work in our community.  There aren't too many opportunities for you to have an impact on the way an entire system works, but this is one of them.  You get to work with other dedicated individuals to make HIV care and prevention work better. 

You sold me.  How do I get involved?

That depends on how much time you have to give.  The HIV Prevention Planning Group (HPG) is taking applications for new members through Tuesday, June 18 at 5 p.m.  You can apply here, and then send your resume and personal statement to  You can also learn more about the Ryan White Planning Council (RWPC) on our website.  (They accept applications on a rolling basis - their next round will be in the fall.) Can't make a commitment right now?  Register as a community expert and we'll call on you when we need your expertise.  You can also attend a meeting, call us at 215.574.6760, or email me at

Friday, June 14, 2013

#socialnetworkingproblems: How to get started, be strategic, and avoid the pitfalls of social media

On Wednesday morning, I had the pleasure of presenting at the 14th Annual Prevention and Outreach Summit presented by Philadelphia FIGHT.  It was an expanded version of a much briefer presentation on social media strategy for HIV programs that I had done for the SMART4Life provider forum a couple of weeks ago.  I'm passionate about using social media to spread information, change social norms, and generally do good things, so I was excited to share what I know with some local programs and organizations.

Here's my full slide deck, complete with links:

That first slide is something that we refer to around the office as simply, "The Slide."  It drives a lot of what we do here.  See, if things don't change, half of today's young Black men who have sex with men (MSM) will be HIV-positive by the time they hit the age of 35.  Half.


This is completely appalling and totally unacceptable.  What we've been doing hasn't been working.  I know there are a lot of barriers to social media for public health organizations (like outdated policies and not being allowed to bill for the time spent online), but we can't afford to keep doing the same tired things when they're clearly not having the effect we need them to. 

So, social media.  I gave participants in my session this handout to help get them started.  My presentation was really geared toward spending as little money on social media as possible.  It's difficult enough to get a good grasp on social media for a small business, but for small nonprofits and public health organizations, it can feel almost impossible.  Luckily I both love to learn and to share, so I'll be writing more posts on this subject in the future.  In the meantime, here are some of my favorite resources.
  • CDC's National Prevention Information Network (NPIN) ran a series of webinars on social media for public health.  The first series is over, but you can get the recordings and slide sets here.
  • Social media for public health (#SM4PH) Twitter chats.  These are on a variety of topics, and they can be a great opportunity to network with others in your field.  Follow @sm4ph on Twitter for updates.
  • Net Tuesday Meetups.  Held the first Tuesday of every month in Center City Philly, with the theme "social web for social change."  A friendly group of people that know how to make things happen with little to no funding.
  • If you like books as much as I do, I'd recommend the new Social Change Anytime Everywhere from Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward.
  • And my favorite social media blogs/websites:
    • Dialogue Consulting.   They're Australian, so keep this in mind when looking at webinar times.
    • John Haydon.  Discussing social media for nonprofits.
    • Nonprofit Tech 2.0.  A social media guide for nonprofits.
    • Seth Godin.  Neither nonprofit nor social media-specific, but generally good, helpful advice.  Short, sweet, and published daily.
    • The Face of the Matter.  Health communications blog from Philadelphia-based Jim Garrow.
    • Buffer.  A more general interest blog about productivity, social media, and more.
    • Mashable's Social Media section.  All the most up-to-date news on social media.  Easy to get information overload here - take what you need, and ignore the rest.
    • Public Health Memes.  Great for a field-specific laugh.

There's the roundup.  If you're already on social media, what are some of your favorite resources?  If you're not, what's stopping you?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Team: Noel Ramirez

This post is part of a series that features a member of the community planning team - one of the devoted members of the Ryan White Planning Council or the Prevention Planning Group that volunteers his or her time to improve HIV services in our area.

This month, we feature Noel Ramirez.  Noel is now a Planning Council member, but until recently he served on the Prevention Planning Group. I asked him the following questions.

What made you decide to get involved in community planning?
I wanted to bring a youth/young person perspective to the table to shake things up a bit.  I was also tired of hearing people say that young people are apathetic.  We’re not.
You previously served on the Prevention Planning Group, and now you're on the Ryan White Planning Council, which is a pretty unique situation.  How do you think your time on the PPG will help you as an RWPC member?
I got to sample the great snacks and fruit flavored teas!
On the real, my time with the PPG was helpful in initially understanding the planning process.  I also got to meet people in the planning council through a variety of ad-hoc meetings.

 What is your favorite part about community planning?
My favorite part of community planning is learning the mechanics of policy and practice.  As a direct service provider, I never quite understood how and why things are. Community Planning really gives me an opportunity to really see what goes on behind the scenes.

What is the biggest challenge facing community planning today?
I’m working with getting some young people into it.  Outreach to youth and creating opportunities for young people seems to be the most obvious challenge. 

What do you wish more people knew about community planning?
The office staff and the community are awesome and fabulous.  (Ed. note: No, I didn't coerce Noel into saying that.)  The refreshments are great. And your voice is actually pretty important.
Noel: One of the many faces of community planning
What do you do?  What programs are you involved with?
I am a program manager at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and manage a program called The Sexuality With Education And Truth (SWEAT) Project.  The SWEAT project is a community-wide program for HIV+ young gay/bisexual men in Philadelphia. I work with different HIV care provider sites and develop/facilitate programming that provides young dudes an opportunity to find their voice, find a friend and find a community that support, loves and honors who they are.
I also do consulting work with YHEP’s Prep Program “I AM Men’s Health” and have developed curriculum and programming for HIV- men who are taking Prep.

What do you want Philadelphians to know about PrEP?
It’s an option and new technology for you when deciding how you’re going to engage in sex.  Check it out and talk to a medical provider for more information! 

What is your favorite thing about the Philly area?
I love riding my bike through different neighborhoods in the summer. I have also am currently having a love affair with Fuel…perhaps my favorite food joint so far. Next to Smokeless BBQ in South Philly.
Anything you like to do while you're in the neighborhood for meetings?  (No is fine!)
My programming work is usually in the evenings, so I’m usually off to that.

Anything else you'd like to add?
I love, honor and respect the people involved in the fight of HIV.  Planners, affected, infected, medical providers, administrators, government folks, medical case managers and allies, you have all stolen my heart :)

To meet our featured community planners or get involved in the process yourself, we invite you to participate in one of our meetings. You can always view a meeting calendar at, or email to learn more.