Big health systems increasingly pursuing community health initiatives

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The drive to contain costs under value-based care and the growing emphasis on population health management has helped illuminate the importance of social and economic factors on overall health. As a result, a growing number of health systems are taking a more holistic approach to address these determinants of health, according to the Harvard Business Review.

A study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation cited by the Harvard Business Review found only 20 percent of the factors that influence one's health are related to access and quality of care. The leftover 80 percent of factors are socioeconomic, environmental or behavioral factors, such as unhealthy diet, poor housing, lack of exercise and drug and alcohol use.

As CMS continues to grow the link between healthcare value and reimbursement, the imperative to address these social factors of health is clarified.     

Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica, along with the AARP Foundation, the American Hospital Association and other groups, started the Root Cause Coalition to engage hospital systems, businesses and nonprofits to address social determinants of health, such as hunger and food insecurity.

Healthcare leaders are increasingly talking about how their efforts to improve community health will impact health systems' bottom lines. "At the end of the day, healthcare executives have to run the business," said Ross Wilson, MD, CMO of NYC Health + Hospitals, according to the report. "If the work on social needs reduces utilization and emergency department visits, you start to find a business model that is effective."

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