Where do you go when you need to find a doctor but don’t know where to start your search? If you’re new to a community, chances are you’ll need to find a doctor or human service center at some point, and although you can utilize basic search engines like Google, the results are often a jumbled pastiche of information that isn’t very helpful.
Realizing this, Denise Graves decided to take upon the task of creating a one-stop shop for medical and human services information. “I saw a need for our community to have one source where people can go find the help they need…be it medical or human service assistance,” she explained. To fill this need, she created a comprehensive online database of local medical and human service contact information called Health and Services of Peoria at hspeoria.com. She and her team of four work to fulfill the mission of “providing a reliable resource allowing people the ability to find the medical and assistance help that they need while allowing providers a way to educate people of the services they provide.”
While medical and human service information is out there, Graves said it’s so fragmented that it’s hard to find exactly what you need. HSPeoria.com offers a comprehensive listing of information about local doctors and physicians, medical facilities and services, resources, support groups, volunteer opportunities and health insurance.
Graves first launched the site in December 2008, initially funding it herself, with plans to sell advertising on the site to pay for operational costs. While still working towards the goal of covering the entire cost of operating the site through advertising revenues, Graves and her team have been able to make great strides in just a little over one year.
To help get the word out, Graves talks to everyone she can in the healthcare and human services industries and counts on word of mouth to help inform the public of the site. And the word is getting out. In addition to individuals, there are several groups of people who utilize Graves’ hub of information. Hospitals’ discharge planners use it to provide patients with contact information for follow-up care. Hotlines use the site to give callers information about where they can seek help locally. Nursing homes utilize hspeoria.com when making appointments for their patients. Local residents who need to contact their doctors while on vacation don’t have to worry about having every doctor’s phone number with them—they can just log on wherever they are. Realtors have started including hspeoria.com in the packets of information they give to clients who are new to the area, as everyone must find a doctor or human service representative at some point. Graves said she’s gotten several calls from people who don’t live in the area but have family members who do. HSPeoria.com allows them to help find care for their loved ones regardless of where they live.
At hspeoria.com, individuals can see more than 5,000 listings of medical and human service providers. All local providers are given complimentary basic listings, with the opportunity to increase the amount of information included on the site for a nominal fee. Because it’s a dynamic website, users can jump directly to providers’ websites without having to perform numerous individual searches, and can utilize the site’s internal search engine when looking for a specific service or provider.
To keep its information current, Graves and her team constantly call providers to verify the information they have on the website. Now, she said, they’re at the point where the site is so well known that providers have started calling them to update their info after a location or staff change. “[Keeping everything current] is an ongoing process,” Graves said.
In the future, Graves hopes to be able to expand the website to cover providers in the Bloomington-Normal and Champaign-Urbana areas as well, but for now, hspeoria.com is focused on Peoria and its surrounding communities. Graves is considering adding a feature that would allow users to rate providers and leave comments and is planning to launch a calendar in the near-future that will feature healthcare-related events in the area.
If you’re a local healthcare or human service provider, Graves encourages you to visit hspeoria.com to verify the information in your current listing. If corrections need to be made, or you know of a provider or service that is not listed, contact her at (309) 648-3471 or [email protected]. “The vision [of hspeoria.com] is to offer the people of Peoria and surrounding communities an easy and convenient way to find the help and resources they need,” said Graves, and that’s exactly what the site has done. iBi