Hospitals and health systems are on a journey that promises to take them to a place where they can improve the lives of thousands of people all at once, not just the health of one patient at a time … where their success in addressing the social determinants of health within the communities they serve will be as important as the high-quality medical care they provide within their four walls.

It’s a journey described in the AHA Committee on Research’s new report, “The Next Generation of Community Health.”

The report looks at the transformation taking place in America’s health care, and how hospitals and health systems are building collaborative teams that are improving the coordination of health care. They're partnering with other health care providers and experimenting with new ways to provide care where people live and work — not just at the local hospital.

As the report notes, hospitals and health systems also are looking beyond their walls to better coordinate care among primary care doctors, home health caregivers, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes – and many other types of providers. And they're expanding wellness and prevention services for those with chronic diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, which account for upwards of 75% of health costs. Keeping people healthy and at home is better for patients and communities — and better for controlling health care costs.

These “first generation strategies” have brought great success and insight to the community health work done by hospitals and health systems and have improved population health, the report observes. It says “second generation strategies” – like, for example, hospitals partnering more closely with other hospitals; community visioning; predictive analytics and use of big data; and national collaboratives – will build on what is already being done by many in the field to take community health to the next level.

And closer to a system where we write fewer prescriptions for care and more prescriptions for health.

 

 

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