North Philadelphia Health Enterprise Zone (HEZ)

DHS is partnering with the Department of Education, the City of Philadelphia, area hospitals, and other stakeholders to create the Health Enterprise Zone, a plan to address health disparities in North Philadelphia.

HEZ graphic 1

We believe there is a better way to provide health care for the residents of North Philadelphia. By bringing together government, health care providers, hospitals, philanthropy and community stakeholders, we hope to increase access, improve quality, and reduce health disparities for North Philadelphia families.

There are nearly 300,000 Medicaid recipients in the North Philadelphia zone. That is 13 percent of Pennsylvania’s Medicaid population in a relatively small area. These families are more likely to experience deep poverty that affects not only their health but also their education, employment and income. Rather than simply expanding the strategies currently in place, the HEZ will try new and innovative community-based approaches to health care. Instead of the traditional medical model, the HEZ will reward approaches to reduce health disparities, improve health outcomes, and stabilize and reduce health care costs.

View full PDF of HEZ overview 


How will the HEZ Work?

The HEZ will focus on these goals:

  • Innovation: Developing, deploying, and coordinating human and technological resources to improve and elevate the social, economic, and health outcomes for North Philadelphia.
  • Investment: Redirecting and investing resources into core infrastructure institutions to achieve long-term health, stability, and sustainability in the zone.
  • Incentive: Aligning public and private capital and financial models to properly resource community, staff, and institutions within the zone to effect short and long-term change.
  • Integration: Focusing on coordination of efforts, reducing duplication, improving quality, and promoting economies of scale. 

While the process will be flexible and responsive to the participating parties’ priorities and ideas, the initial steps of the HEZ process include: 

  • Convening Stakeholder Committees: The HEZ will convene several subject matter-specific committees in November to conduct a "gap analysis" that looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the current healthcare system in North Philadelphia. These committees will examine impacts and approaches of state and local government, the health care industry, educational institutions, community groups, and technology. The findings will be released in a March 2017 preliminary report.

  • Supporting Community Schools: The HEZ will make up to $1.5 million available to the City of Philadelphia to improve access to higher quality health care in cooperation with the Mayor’s Community Schools Initiative. The city will coordinate with PDE to develop proposals that will help deliver health care at school and reduce absenteeism for kids with chronic conditions such as asthma.

  • Reducing Barriers to Care for Super-Utilizers: The federal government reports that five percent of Medicaid recipients can drive as much as 54 percent of all Medicaid costs in a particular area. These individuals, often called “super-utilizers” have the most complex needs of any individuals served and have the worst health outcomes. In year one, the HEZ will identify the top 100 adult and 100 pediatric utilizers and create a coordinated approach that leverages the resources of the HEZ to better coordinate all aspects of their care and ensure they receive the best possible care.
  • Providing Employment Opportunities: Financial stability is a key driver in the health of an individual and the health of a community. The HEZ will work with community stakeholders to help ensure that the HEZ provides employment opportunities for the North Philadelphia residents and civic engagement. The HEZ will set a goal of announcing its first employment initiatives in January 2017.