Apr 08, 2022
Hospitals play a critical role in the health of their communities. However, this role extends beyond providing healthcare in times of need. Preventative healthcare not only reduces overall medical costs, but also improves the quality of life for communities as a whole.
By building a strong relationship with community members and increasing preventative care efforts, healthcare facilities have the opportunity to emerge as the driving force for improved health throughout the country.
Your Facility’s Impact on Public Health
In 2016, less than 55% of U.S. nonprofit hospitals reported any kind of community-building spending. However, the same study found that social determinants can drive as much as 80% of health outcomes.
For health, social determinants include access to clean water, nutrition, safe housing, and income. A 2020 study found that community-directed spending lowers preventable hospital readmission rates. So how can your facility contribute?
Change In Action
First and foremost, your facility should set broad priorities to support community health services by addressing social and economic needs. Then, each facility can set action items based on the specific needs of the community they’re located in.
Consider the health issues facing locals in your community. Which health disparities cause hospitalizations? Consider food insecurity—the food we eat plays a major role in our quality of health.
If the people in your community don’t have access to quality food and nutrition, you may treat an overwhelming number of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke cases. To address this, your facility should focus their community outreach on decreasing health disparities in the community.
A few examples of how to address this issue include creating a community farmers market, conducting demonstrations for preparing nutritious, low-cost dinners at home, and food redistribution programs.
Partner with Local Community-Based Organizations
Once you’ve identified which health disparities impact your community, you can take action by partnering with a local organization dedicated to that cause. Public health officials can combine their resources with your facility’s medical knowledge to create an action plan for the community.
Continue the Conversation
How has your facility taken action to improve community health and keep locals informed? Share this post on LinkedIn and continue the conversation! You never know what you could learn from other facilities facing similar challenges.