Hospitals can bridge cultural differences through population health

The shift away from physician-led care and toward patient-focused care means that hospitals and healthcare institutions must embrace population health as a core value and as a means of improving outcomes and eliminating health disparities in their communities, argues a Forbes column.

Hospitals can maximize their outreach into multicultural communities, which are typically underserved by the healthcare system, by pairing with consumer brands and making population health a part of their brand identity, according to the article. 

Population health as a concept is a laudable goal, wrote Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis, but too often suffers from a lack of strategy for taking advantage of what external partners bring to the table. To that end, he said, institutions can learn from the efforts of retail companies like Walgreens, CVS and Target, which are expanding their offerings in retail healthcare by opening clinics, offering immunizations and bringing healthcare access to those who are typically underserved, like black and Latino consumers.

"For populations that have been traditionally underserved, we have even greater proximity," Jim Graham, senior manager of media relations at Walgreens, told Forbes. "As a result of our geographic reach, we often become the healthcare provider of first choice when a resident of an underserved community is in need."

Hospitals and healthcare institutions are in a unique position because they have the resources and the will to shift to patient-focused care, but these organizations have not typically been consumer-focused entities. 

Healthcare executives and CEOs must be innovative and flexible thinkers to successfully weather the change-over to value-based care, FierceHealthcare previously reported. A white paper from the Chartis group said that consumer engagement is key to establishing population health as a value in the community. 

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