Flip No. 38

Use trusted community places as health information hubs

Delivering health information from a trusted source where people gather naturally

By Flip the Clinic

Developed at Flip the Clinic Lab: Phoenix

For many low income communities, gaining access to trusted health resources can be challenging and expensive. What if, instead of requiring people to seek out health information, valuable resources were offered where community members already congregate?

Libraries pose an appealing opportunity to deliver underserved populations essential health, medical, and community resources as well as guidance and support. These so-called Health Hubs might ask librarians to opt in to expand their roles, bring in volunteers for training, or promote a sharing economy model. In the sharing economy model, community volunteers might be compensated for their work in a way that doesn’t involve money, perhaps with complimentary access to health services or groceries donated by a supermarket. Alternatively, these Health Hubs could fund training programs and staff hours by seeking sponsorship from area corporations and businesses. Health Hubs could both improve a community’s access to vital health information—and increase their trust in it.


  • Vanessa Mason

    Love this idea! I work at ZeroDivide (http://www.zerodivide.org), a nonprofit consulting organization that leverages technology to transform underserved communities. We have two projects that have addressed this flip and we would love to talk about ways to collaborate.

    Health Happens in Libraries (http://www.webjunction.org/explore-topics/ehealth.html) is an ongoing initiative to build the capacity of libraries to support ACA enrollment. ZeroDivide has also developed Health Plan for You (https://www.healthplanforyou.org/) to help underserved consumers find, choose and use health insurance.

  • Liz Morris

    Great points, Vanessa! Public libraries are excellent partners for advancing community health priorities. The Health Happens in Libraries program magnifies the role of public libraries as key contributors to community health. Regardless of size or staffing, public libraries are trusted community institutions that provide information literacy services, community convening capacity, and access for multigenerational and multicultural patrons to relevant and reliable resources.

    Innovative libraries, such as Miami Public Library in Oklahoma, which provides community health literacy workshops, or Pima County Public Library in Arizona, which has a public health nurse program, are meeting a growing demand for accessible and reliable health information. The Information Policy & Access Center reported that, in 2013, “Over half (55.9%) of libraries offer programs that promote the development of healthy lifestyles.” Working intentionally with local community health partners, libraries can connect patrons to the information and expertise necessary to promote priority health objectives.