Many hospitals are rightfully focused inward on the ways that they can improve medical care to save costs down the line. But sometimes it's the interventions that take place far outside the health system's walls that produce the biggest bang for your buck.
In this ever-growing era of managing the health of populations and aiming to keep patients healthy and out of inpatient beds, community-based initiatives are becoming all the more important to hospitals. The Trust for America's Health estimates that every $1 spent on community-based health programs — exercise, nutrition, smoking cessation, etc. — leads to a $5.60 return on investment.
Hospitals are trying all sorts of approaches to capitalize on this promise, but you don't always hear about them in this siloed and busy world. With that in mind, the Association for Community Health Improvement is hosting its fifth annual Community Health Improvement Week, which kicked off yesterday and runs through June 6, to celebrate some of those successes. Julia Resnick, program manager with ACHI, says such work is essential to transforming the care that hospitals deliver.
"Population health is going to be crucial to the success of the U.S. health care system moving forward," she says. "And while population health management within the hospital walls and working on chronic disease management is important, if hospitals are really going to be successful in improving population health, they have to look outside their walls and at their communities and work jointly to achieve improved health outcomes for everyone."
ACHI — which is a personal membership group of the American Hospital Association — will kick off the week with a welcome video from the AHA's chairman of the board. Other planned activities include a rollout of some of the best presentations from ACHI's annual conference this past March and a free webinar Wednesday on rethinking population health strategies to tackle community health. Hospitals that are doing exciting work in the field of community health improvement are encouraged to share their stories on Twitter using the hashtag #CHIweek.
To read more about what leaders in the field are doing to address community health, be sure to check out H&HN contributing writer Geri Aston's recent cover story on behavioral health. In it, she explores how hospitals are connecting their patients with medical and social services out in the community. In March, we also covered the close bonds that hospitals are forming with public health departments around the country in order transform health care. Plus, the final part of our patient engagement series that ran in 2014 took a deeper dive into the ways in which hospitals are forming strategic partnerships with a broad spectrum of local organizations, from churches to schools, in order to better engage their communities and improve population health.