COVID-19 has shaken the country, and Louisiana is no exception. Our platform, which connects people to social services nearby, saw over 2,000 searches per week from users in the state since mid-March — a 40% increase from pre-COVID times. Searches for “food,” “money,” and “housing” spiked during the pandemic.
We believe that everyone needs a helping hand at some point — over the last 4 months, we’ve seen this unfold on a massive scale. The rising number of people tapping into their local safety nets has spurred thousands of nonprofits, charities, and other social care providers to come to the aid of those affected by the pandemic.
In response, our team has added over 2,500 new programs related to COVID-19 to our platform — we’ve also launched findhelp.org, a place where people impacted by the pandemic can get relief. Our Data Operations team has also been working tirelessly to reflect changes on our program listings such as services, hours, and contact information.
What we’re doing in Louisiana
Over the years, we’ve worked hard to grow our social care network with Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in Louisiana. In recent months, as Louisiana’s communities have been devastated by the economic impact of COVID-19, nonprofits in the state are determining how they can continue to operate and serve the communities that depend on them, while demand for their services continues to grow.
As the pandemic spread like wildfire across America in March of 2020, our Community Engagement Team contacted close to 500 nonprofits across Louisiana in an effort to understand their unique situations, update their program information, and provide free intake tools. Just one month later, half of these nonprofits claimed their listings on Aunt Bertha. This means that people reaching out to them for help on our platform will not only be met by an engaged, responsive provider, but will be able to use additional tools such as eligibility screeners and appointment schedulers to save time. The success of this outreach effort validated the strong interest for services like Aunt Bertha among social care providers in Louisiana. We’re excited and motivated to keep building our network throughout the state.
We’re proud of our partnership with United Ministries, a nationally recognized, Louisiana-based nonprofit that’s also a claimed organization on our network. Our extensive resource library has helped them meet their mission of providing simple access to thousands of assistance programs to people in need.
Sharing the stories of Louisiana locals on the front lines is also something that’s important to us. In a piece titled Feeding the Front Line, our Social Care Stories team covers a grassroots effort in New Orleans that purchases meals from local restaurants that are then donated to frontline healthcare workers. In this piece from our Profiles from the Pandemic series, we report on the resilience of New Orleanians — how they will not be moved despite hurricanes, pandemics, and more — and how the pandemic is impacting the communal and cultural practices of Mardi Gras Indians.
Our network in Louisiana
Our users and prospective customers are always interested in the strength of our network. Time and time again we hear that customers choose Aunt Bertha over others because they know they’ll start with an engaged network that’s already in place on day one (versus a promise to build one).
Because we are continually asked about our network, we figure we’ll save everybody a bunch of time and publish our network statistics every month. In this interactive map, you can drill into any parish to learn more about the types of programs available on a parish-by-parish basis. You’ll find that there are 1,024 claimed program locations on our network in Louisiana — that number grows each month.
In addition to a parish-by-parish breakdown, you can drill down by metropolitan statistical area as well. Human beings and the referrals you make for them don’t stop at regional borders — and neither do we! Our nationwide network provides continuity across metros, parishes, counties, and states, a critical feature if the population you serve is mobile.
We’re dedicated to growing our network across America. With a Data Operations team of 60 full-time employees based in Austin, Texas, we have the right mix of boots on the ground. Data Operations is the largest department in the company and is dedicated to researching information, entering new programs, and responding to changes across the country. This team shapes the user experience through the programs they vet, the information they distill, and the logical organization of services they tag. It would be far easier and cheaper for us to only rely on technology like many of our counterparts are doing. But we’ve taken the harder path to build a team made up of humans — not robots, because this is the only way to ensure that people get the help they need, simply and quickly.
Our traction in Louisiana
We regularly analyze our user activity across our network to get a sense for who’s falling behind in a community and their most critical needs. In Louisiana, we’ve seen over 50,000 users — with more than 20,000 of them unique — over the past year.
Where are Aunt Bertha’s users in Louisiana coming from?
Our users are people in need, workers at nonprofits and government agencies, and employees of our paying customers who serve Louisianans, such as the DePaul Community Health Centers, Ochsner, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Healthy Blue (Anthem), Social Health Bridge, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), AARP Foundation, and the Red Cross.
There are hundreds of users coming from networks owned by the State of Louisiana (state employees), all major universities, and most major healthcare institutions in the state. While these organizations are not yet customers, they’re using our platform to find and connect to social care resources across Louisiana. It’s amazing to see users beyond our own customer base using our platform to help their communities and constituents.
Where Louisianans are searching for assistance
Our users are searching across all 64 parishes in Louisiana — from big cities and small towns alike. While high search density can be seen in metros such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge, there is consistent coverage across the entire state, including rural areas.
What Are Louisianans Searching for?
Housing and food are the most sought after services by our users in Louisiana, followed closely by health services. The chart below breaks down searches by more than 20,000 users across the state over the past year.
Beyond search: connections & responses
In the past year, there were over 20,000 connections on our platform in Louisiana alone. A connection goes beyond a search — it’s when someone in need and a program that can serve that person come together because of our platform. Examples include platform referrals, third-party intake mechanisms from our system, and responses by CBOs. Below is evidence of tremendous connections growth over time in the state.
We expect connections to continue growing as our network expands in Louisiana. On our platform, three entities can update the status, or “close the loop” on referrals: an employee of the organization that made the outbound referral, an employee of the organization that receives the referral, and the person being referred. We’ve seen significant growth in the number of “closed loop” referrals as more of our users update completion of services on Aunt Bertha.
Success stories from Louisiana
Through our mission-driven partnerships, our customers are making a difference across the state of Louisiana. Customers rely on our tools, analytics, and network strength to help their patients, members, and community members find help with dignity and ease.
DePaul Community Health Centers Care Fellowship is using Aunt Bertha to make a huge impact with a small team. Since launching in October 2018, they have used the Aunt Bertha platform to send more than 7,000 referrals to 800+ CBOs in the New Orleans area. They’ve empowered a team of 14 community health workers (CHWs) to complete more than 3,000 social needs assessments and send an average of 500 referrals per CHW. They truly care about their community and continue to follow up until each patient’s needs are addressed.
Larger organizations are also achieving some incredible results and “closing the loop” on social care referrals. In April, one of our customers, a Medicaid plan provider of the state, launched a Social Determinants of Health Provider Incentive Program pilot for in-network providers, to ensure patients receive the care they need both inside and outside of the doctor’s office. Powered by Aunt Bertha, these providers have assessed more than a thousand patients for social needs in the past three months, and received responses for 62% of the social care referrals they’ve made to hundreds of nonprofits across Louisiana.
One of our state-level health benefits plan customers partnered with a Louisiana affordable housing provider to make it easier for healthcare and community organizations to work together — creating sustainable, long-lasting impact. The project aims to close care gaps and reduce healthcare spending by meeting the unique needs of residents in two community developments. Community Health Workers within the housing developments help residents navigate the site, create referrals, and connect with the organizations. By creating a sustainable model for housing developments, they’re hoping to encourage more organizations to adopt their methods and connect residents to social care programs.
Since Aunt Bertha has the largest open network, we’re able to capture search needs and availability data. Using our gap analysis reports, our customers in Louisiana are identifying the communities with the least amount of (or the right type of) resources available in their communities. Some are then taking the next step to target these needs and support the CBOs who can provide these important services.
Our Customer Success team is always here to help and guide customers on new initiatives, based on our knowledge of the social care space. We’re uniquely positioned to share an informed point of view, based on the successes and outcomes that we help drive for our partners in Louisiana and beyond.
Continuing the mission in Louisiana
We’re in it for the long haul. Our mission is to connect people and the programs that serve them with dignity and ease — during trying times like the current moment, there are no easy answers. We are hesitant to make a claim that software is a panacea that drives down the cost of care. Software in and of itself does not drive down the cost of care. People building relationships with vulnerable individuals — by being thoughtful, listening, and making good referrals — is what drives down the cost of care. With the continued support of both our current and future partners, we look forward to working together to improve even more lives in the years ahead.
By the way, who’s Aunt Bertha?
Our company was founded in 2010, and soon became the most widely adopted search and referral network for finding and connecting to social services in the United States. The company’s name was inspired by our founder’s mother who often helped people in need and took in foster children who didn’t have a place to stay. In that spirit, the name is a tribute to family members helping other family members during challenging times. As of this writing, we have helped nearly 4 million users on our platform in all 50 states. If you’re curious about our user growth and where our users come from, take a look:
We didn’t become a nationwide network overnight. We never really advertised or went viral, so people discovered www.auntbertha.com through word of mouth and through our customers, who licensed our platform and joined our Social Care Network.
With a large user base, we became more and more curious about how people search. And we found that it isn’t always the person in need searching for services in their own neighborhoods. Often it’s friends helping friends, adult children helping their aging parents, professional social workers helping their clients. We’ve noticed that when people are helping others, state lines don’t seem to matter.
Yelp, Indeed, and Google all transformed the way we organize, find, and connect to information in other sectors. We’re doing the same for health and human services across America.