Episcopal Health Foundation’s Lexi Nolen makes the case that health clinics and healthcare organizations should become active in improving community conditions
Healthcare organizations are critical participants in the effort to improve community conditions that lead to poor health. Many clinicians are already well aware that population health is mostly shaped by social determinants of health. But it’s been challenging to break through with the media outlets they turn to most frequently with information about how clinics can start taking on this work as they continue to provide high quality medical services.
That’s why we are thrilled that a leading funder and partner in this work, Episcopal Health Foundation, has published an article in Health Affairs making the case for what we call “community-centered health homes.”
As the article states, “A CCHH [community-centered health home] clinic not only acknowledges that community conditions outside the clinic walls affect patient outcomes, but also actively participates in improving those conditions.”
Episcopal Health Foundation is making the CCHH model, developed by Prevention Institute, a reality in 13 community health clinics in Texas. Although implementation of community-centered interventions began only a few months ago (there was an important planning phase first), early efforts by those clinics are aimed at issues like:
- Establishing a food council in a small city with significant incidence of hunger
- Working with local land developers in Houston to create suburbs that better support healthy eating and active living
- Developing community-level prevention approaches to mental illness
- Reducing adverse childhood experiences (ACES) by addressing the ways community and systems structures can more strongly support prevention of them.
EHF is also gathering lessons and resources for others to use. Nolen writes, “We’re actively interested in understanding the unique contribution that the CCHH model can make to accelerating health systems transformation. To that end, we are working with several other funders including Blue Shield of California Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, RCHN Community Health Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to identify that unique contribution and to figure out how best to build upon related efforts around the country.”
We encourage you to read Improving Population Health Outcomes By Investing In Community Prevention in Health Affairs, comment on it, and pass it along to others. We strongly support its argument that “unless we focus on advancing population-level interventions and not just individual measures, we can’t make sufficient change to turn the tide of the health challenges we face as a nation.”