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Exploring the Role of Hospitals in Improving Population Health

  • By: NYSHealth
  • Date: February 2017
  • Priority Area: Building Healthy Communities
  • Type: Grant Outcome Reports
  • Category: Grant Outcome Report
  • Grantee Name: Cornell University Weill Cornell Medical College


There has been increasing attention to the concept of population health—the health of all the people in a geographic community. Population health comprises more than medical care; it also includes factors such as socioeconomic status, the built environment, and education. Hospitals and accountable care organizations can play important roles as key drivers of population health, but medical professionals often have a much narrower definition of this concept. Creating a common definition of population health is essential both to assess the extent to which hospitals are working to improve population health and understand what resources are (or are not) being allocated to this important work. In 2014, NYSHealth awarded Weill Cornell Medical College a grant to gather and analyze information on the current and future role of New York State hospitals in improving population health.

Grantee:  Cornell University Weill Cornell Medical College

Dates: August 2014 – June 2015

Grant Amount: $217,505

Grantee Website:

Grant ID: 14-03094

Outcomes and Lessons Learned:

  • Reviewed nearly 60 community service plans from New York State hospitals to learn how they addressed behavioral lifestyle factors to prevent chronic disease;
  • Interviewed hospital and community leaders in the State, national community population health experts, and leaders of out-of-state hospitals that have innovative community-based population health programs;
  • Provided examples of innovative partnerships among hospitals, local organizations, and public health agencies that address nonmedical determinants of community-based population health;
  • Identified barriers (e.g., fee-for-service payment system or lack of a demonstrable return on investment) and facilitators (e.g., leadership with a strong understanding of community health determinants) to hospitals’ involvement in programs impacting community-based population health; and
  • Published its findings and recommendations in the report, “The Role of Hospitals in Improving Non-Medical Determinants of Community Population Health” and in a Health Affairs blog post.


Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: N/A