A report in JAMA discusses how hospitals can make their neighborhoods and wider communities healthier by addressing nonmedical factors in population health.
The article lists four steps needed for hospitals “to play their full role in improving the health of their communities
1. “There needs to be more attention to developing the metrics required to identify and measure the social and economic benefits of a hospital’s community work—the true return on investment.”
2. “Action is required to make it easier to share information, so that hospitals, schools, and other institutions in the community, as well as government bodies, can coordinate more effectively. One such promising initiative is the Urban Institute-led National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, which is developing integrated data for community-based partnerships (bit.ly/1Mq3Loe).”
3. “To help address the wrong pocket problem, government budgets and payment systems at all levels need to provide flexibility and to blend funds, with the goal of achieving a joint return on investment. If it makes sense for a hospital to incur costs for prevention or nutrition improvement because that leads to reduced social welfare costs, then it’s in everyone’s interest to provide the right incentive.”
4. “New forms of investment capital are required to finance hospitals to undertake innovative approaches that lead to community benefits but do not result in revenue to the hospital. Some government jurisdictions are beginning to help with this. For instance, … Maryland has created a fund to help finance initiatives by hospitals and other institutions that improve community health (1.usa.gov/1PqkyNK).”