New Resources Share Progress of Essential Hospitals toward Community-Integrated Care

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Documents show how essential hospitals reach outside their walls, including through community partnerships, to influence social determinants of health.

While community-integrated health care can seem like a daunting goal, our Milestones resource breaks this concept into specific action steps.

Nearly 80 percent of essential hospitals—those with a mission to care for vulnerable people—have made a public commitment to address social determinants of health (SDOH), such as homelessness and community infrastructure, new resources from Essential Hospitals Institute show.

The Institute, the research and education arm of America’s Essential Hospitals, found that essential hospitals overall are building capacity for community-integrated health care (CIHC), defined as health care providers working with the government, social services, and other sectors in complementary and collaborative ways to improve health. Essential hospitals accomplish this through organizational commitment; workforce development; community engagement; external partnerships; health information technology and data; and finance and investment.

One resource, Outside the Hospital Walls: An Update on Essential Hospitals’ Efforts to Improve the Health of Their Communities, expands on the Institute’s foundational research in 2016 about essential hospitals’ work to improve SDOH. The latest phase of research, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, included a survey of more than 40 population health leaders at essential hospitals and interviews with 25 hospital representatives.

The Institute found hospitals increasingly see themselves as responsible for caring for all people in a specific geographic area—not just those who come through their doors—and have developed community partnerships that respond to social needs and underlying conditions. Forty-seven percent of survey respondents reported working to change community conditions for housing instability, and 40 percent reported doing so for community infrastructure.

The report also highlights a growth in partnerships between essential hospitals and community-based organizations. Data sharing between hospitals and community partners increased by 30 percentage points from 2016 to 2019, the Institute survey revealed.

But barriers to CIHC remain, including long-term funding solutions, limited external partner capacity, and difficulty sharing and visualizing data. To help hospitals better understand the components of CIHC, the Institute published a companion resource: Milestones for Community-Integrated Health Care at Essential Hospitals.

“While CIHC can seem like a daunting goal, our Milestones resource breaks this concept into specific action steps,” said Kalpana Ramiah, DrPH, MSc, vice president of innovation at America’s Essential Hospitals and director of the Institute. “We hope this list can aid hospitals as they introduce a CIHC model or expand on previous work.”

Both reports are available for download from the association’s website, at https://essentialhospitals.org/institute/new-institute-resources-for-advancing-community-integrated-health-care/

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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. We support our more than 300 members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education. Communities depend on essential hospitals to provide specialized, lifesaving services; train the health care workforce; advance public health and health equity; and coordinate care. Essential hospitals innovate and adapt to lead the way to more effective and efficient care. Learn more at https://essentialhospitals.org/.

About Essential Hospitals Institute
Essential Hospitals Institute is the research, education, dissemination, and leadership development arm of America’s Essential Hospitals. The Institute supports the nation’s essential hospitals as they provide high-quality, equitable, and affordable care to their communities. Working with members of America’s Essential Hospitals, we identify promising practices from the field, conduct research, disseminate innovative strategies, and help our members improve their organizational performance. We do all of this with an eye toward improving individual and population health, especially for vulnerable people.

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Carl Graziano
@OurHospitals
since: 10/2009
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