In the not too distant future, health systems will move from fee-for-service reimbursement systems to a “population-based” approach. It’s just a fancy way of saying, health systems will soon be trying to keep their potential patients healthy instead of just treating them when they’re sick. And they’ll be compensated for doing just that.
It’s interesting to see and hear what health systems are doing to connect with its “neighbors” (employees, patients, the surrounding community). With the idea that it all starts with the hospital, one of our clients, NC Prevention Partners, develops programs for hospitals to help them promote a healthy lifestyle to their employees, visitors and patients. They’ve helped hospitals provide healthy food environments on hospital campuses. I recently ate in our client’s cafeteria at Vidant Health and had a healthy, tasty meal of salmon, brown rice and broccoli. NC Prevention Partners also set a huge goal to make 100% of North Carolina’s hospitals tobacco-free. I never would have thought that possible in a state where tobacco was king just a few years ago, but they made it happen.
Allina Health in Minneapolis started a program called Neighborhood Health Connection™ that helps neighborhoods promote healthy eating, exercise, and even socializing, which can help promote mental health. The program is unique because it puts money into the hands of groups of neighbors and individuals who can receive “grants” up to $250. Organizations could receive grants up to $2,500. Allina Health provides an online toolkit to help interested parties learn to connect with their neighbors and learn how to motivate those neighbors so they get involved. It also teaches them how to create events. Allina’s website said they awarded 73 grants in 2013.
A third and final example is a pilot program going on in New York. Doctors are giving mostly low-income patients with a propensity for obesity something called Health Bucks. A “prescription” is given to the patient to eat more fruits and vegetables. They turn in the Health Bucks at a local farmers’ market in exchange for fresh produce. The family meets with a nutritionist regularly to monitor their eating and to continue to encourage healthy eating.
It’s encouraging to see all the creative ways health systems and even governments are reaching out to connect with their communities to keep them healthy.