How hospital-community partnerships can boost population health

As providers increasingly strive to keep patients healthy, it has become clear that much of what influences health outcomes happens outside of traditional care settings. With that in mind, a new set of white papers from the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement illustrates how healthcare leaders can leverage community resources and pursue partnerships that help them better manage population health.

The "Going Beyond Clinical Walls" series, funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, starts with an introductory white paper that reminds providers that social determinants of health--rather than care quality and access--comprise 80 percent of what influences a population's health. It also uses a case study to illustrate how a hospital-community partnership in Minnesota helped the two entities tackle substance abuse and mental health concerns.

The next white paper explores how data sharing between providers and community organizations can target and address care coverage gaps. It describes how Park Nicollet Health Services and Fairview Health Services, two health systems in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, partnered with Greater Twin Cities United Way to map mental health admission data against the location of mental health and social services programs. The organizations used this combined data to identify and take action in areas that lacked mental health services.

The final white paper details lessons learned from a host of partnerships between healthcare providers and community groups. It lists the factors that drive providers to seek community partners in their population health management efforts as well as the various social determinants of health that these partnerships have helped address, such as pediatric health and nutrition.

The white paper also chronicles the internal changes healthcare organizations must make in order to maximize the benefit of their external collaborations, the challenges associated with hospital-community partnerships and finally, the promising results some organizations have achieved. For example, 75 percent of shoppers at new farmers markets in Kaiser Permanente's hospitals and medical facilities said the presence of the markets increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The American Hospital Association has also issued guidance for hospitals that want to collaborate with community organizations, which has become a pressing imperative for nonprofit providers thanks to Affordable Care Act requirements.

To learn more:
- here's the first white paper (.pdf)
- check out the second white paper (.pdf)
- read the final white paper (.pdf)
- here's the series overview

Related Articles:
AHA offers blueprint for hospital-community partnerships
Hospital-community partnerships: Be the spark
Better population health requires hospital-community partnership
Hospital-community collaboration reduced readmissions by 4,570
CDC: Hospitals must evaluate, improve community benefit programs
Hospitals work to address community needs in compliance with ACA