The Role of Hospitals in Improving Non-Medical Determinants of Community Population Health
Building Healthy Communities
April 4, 2016
This NYSHealth-funded report, prepared by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, examines hospitals’ involvement in community-based population health programs to address non-medical health determinants.
Strong evidence shows that community-level social and environmental factors can affect health significantly. As hospitals assume greater risk for their patients (for example, through Accountable Care Organization participation), some argue that they should focus not only on the medical care of their attributed patients but also on improving non-medical health determinants—such as access to healthy foods and parks, housing, and employment—in their communities at large.
The report finds that New York State hospitals’ involvement in programs to address community non-medical health determinants is not widespread, owing to a perceived lack of incentives and resources for such programs. Nevertheless, some hospitals have developed programs in partnership with community organizations and local government. These programs require relatively little investment and leverage the hospital’s key role and relationships in the community to effect change beyond the hospital walls.