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Discover insights and stories about how community residents are coming together to drive positive change on our most pressing issues.

Member Spotlight: Bryan Wang


Cat Green


May 31, 2024

When Bryan Wang worked for a large hospital system in Salt Lake City, he was tasked with using technology to improve health care access. But quickly, he came to understand that there’s no health care access to be had unless someone is already in a stable situation–with housing, food security, and other social determinants of health. He “got more and more frustrated by how much of the health care industry took the clinical setting as a starting point.” The real starting point is where underserved individuals go to have their needs met: most often, local organizations like food banks and shelters.

The question, for Bryan, was how to support people with social needs like food and housing, and how to turn community-based nonprofits into a starting point for attending to their health needs. There had to be a better way, some way to meet people where they were. As a result,  Bryan co-founded bosWell, building a team of community health workers, food pantry directors, and volunteers to address this need. bosWell’s goal is to embed as many community health workers as possible into community-based organizations, like food pantries, and meet individuals there. Then, the health workers can begin offering wraparound services and connect them with resources.

In practice, bosWell is doing this in two ways right now. First, they partner with smaller organizations, like church-run food pantries, and send their team of community health advocates to meet individuals there and engage with them on an ongoing basis to coordinate access to resources. Second, for larger organizations that already do this kind of work, bosWell offers software tools to document what they’re doing, and connects them to healthcare payers.

For Bryan, this work is all about individual stories and the impact bosWell can have on its neighbors. He talks about one story of a single mother of three, who encountered bosWell in a food pantry. One of her sons was being bullied in school because his pants didn’t fit, and she wasn’t able to buy new ones. The team at bosWell connected her with one of their partners, who ran a free clothing closet, and she was able to access new clothes for her children. “As a small start up organization, there are many ups and downs,” Bryan says, “But if we are helping people on the ground, then this work is worth doing.”

When Bryan encountered GenUnity last year, he decided to join in order to meet others who were also prioritizing different ways of thinking about health equity. Through the cohort, he connected with people working on health equity in their neighborhoods and workplaces. But Bryan’s biggest takeaway from his time as a fellow is that “there’s a much bigger world out there in terms of how we should think of health equity.” Before, Bryan always felt that there were rules set in place–regulations, laws, and policies–and his role was to work within the context of those rules. But through his time with GenUnity, Bryan says his eyes were opened to the groups and people trying to change the rules of the game to promote health equity at a systems level.

Through GenUnity, Bryan also “realized that the people that are in a position to make these changes are more accessible to you than you thought.” In one Community Partner session, Bryan was able to meet Sarah Sears Qin, a Deputy Director at MassHealth. bosWell had been trying to work with MassHealth for some time, and in this Community Partner session, Bryan was able to ask her questions. It was also a moment of realization for Bryan, though, that a system like MassHealth is massive and complicated. “Even for someone who is pretty senior, there’s so much additional complexity and layers to this,” he says. 

After completing the Health Equity cohort, Bryan “[has] more confidence that [he’s] closer to some of these decision makers than [he] was.” Through his work at bosWell, he works to serve individuals now, where they already are. In GenUnity, he came to a greater appreciation of the systems behind issues in health equity. By combining both–an understanding of current needs and an understanding of possible change–Bryan will continue to promote a holistic vision of health in the Boston community.

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