Goals include  reducing health disparities, improving health outcomes and stabilizing health costs.  Hospitals & Health Networks spoke with Barry Freedman, president and CEO of Einstein Healthcare Network, one of the participating health systems.

He described the zone as a “geographic area in which we look at all aspects of care that the residents might need — health, education, a sense of community, jobs, technology and more — to enhance their well-being. We need to increase job opportunities, provide new educational programs and, certainly, to coordinate health care across this enterprise zone. It’s intended to focus not just on health, but also on private-public partnerships to invest in the community. By partnering with different organizations, it brings together different skill sets to help improve this impoverished area. In fact, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is one of the groups that is working with us, and its focus and capabilities will actually help to promote investment in the area and add employment opportunities. If we can address poverty and upgrade income levels, we can produce housing, jobs and education.’’

He said the approach going forward is:

“Each of our hospitals has different strengths, but we’re going to focus initially on people who are heavy utilizers of emergency services because each of us has a significant number. We’re going to start by gaining a better understanding of what needs are not being met, what gaps we have and how we can close those gaps by working together. With improved communication and coordination among our area hospitals, we can meet the needs of our patient population and at the same time reduce overutilization of our EDs, which represents millions upon millions of dollars’ worth of care. Not only do we need to be sensitive to improving health outcomes of our patient population but, with limited and shrinking reimbursements and resources, we also have to be smarter in our approach. ‘’

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