Although many of us have not yet accepted it, healthcare delivery is changing around us; and the ways in which we work to improve the health of the communities we serve is undergoing a fundamental transformation.
This was recently confirmed when I attended the Duke/ Durham Health Summit with several of Jennings’ clients from the Practical Playbook. The theme of this year’s Health Summit was “Creating Collaborations Across Durham to Achieve Health Equity.” It was inspiring to see a hotel ballroom filled to the brim with leaders from an academic health system, public health agencies, churches, advocacy groups, and other local organizations who had all come together with the singular goal of creating a healthier community.
The event was a natural fit for The Practical Playbook, which encourages partnership between primary care and public health organizations (and other partners) to improve population health. To do so, they offer practical and actionable advice that organizations can use at each stage of working together – from finding a partner to interpreting data. (You can learn more about the Practical Playbook here.)
Attending the Duke/Durham Health Summit confirmed to me that community partnerships will soon become standard industry practice for hospitals and health systems. Traditional health care only influences about 20 percent of our health; the other 80 percent is influenced by our behaviors, environment, socioeconomic status, and other factors that are challenging to address in clinical visits. Partnering with public health departments or community organizations will help hospitals identify key factors that impact their patients’ heath (such as a lack of safe places to exercise, a lack of availability of healthy food, or unhealthy housing conditions) and create realistic solutions.
These partnerships will also affect the kinds of programs we market in the future. Rather than discussing a new piece of technology or a new procedure, we’ll be running community outreach programs, educating people on how to stay healthy.
This is an opportunity to position our hospitals or physician practices as true community partners who are willing to make positive changes in their patients’ lives. It’s an opportunity to be the organization that helped to improve conditions in a housing project or launched an obesity prevention program in a local school. It’s a classic example of actions speaking louder than words. Take this opportunity to position your organization as an advocate for your patients.