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Building a Roadmap for Population Health

In January 2016, America’s Essential Hospitals received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to assess its members’ activities to improve population health and to build a roadmap to lay out milestones and strategies.

The RWJF grant funded a nine-month planning phase of the association’s Moving to Action for Hospitals and Population Health project. Essential Hospitals Institute, the nonprofit research and quality improvement arm of America’s Essential Hospitals, is conducting the work.

America’s Essential Hospitals has made population health improvement a research priority. Population health programs, which work at the community level to promote healthful behaviors and mitigate social determinants of health, play an increasingly important role in preventing conditions that require medical care. But it’s not clear which approaches work best, what barriers essential hospitals face, and how to transfer their work to other communities.

Understanding the current landscape

To answer these and other questions, the Institute conducted a thorough, formative evaluation of the current landscape by surveying the association’s 275 member hospitals in 35 states. The Institute also performed a literature review and interviewed experts in the field to understand the facilitators and barriers for essential hospitals in the population health arena.

Through this planning work, the Institute sought to answer these and other questions:

  • How do essential hospitals define, develop, implement, and evaluate population health activities?
  • What barriers to the widespread adoption of population health initiatives do essential hospitals face?
  • How can hospitals and community partners collaborate to promote a culture of health and take meaningful action to improve health in their communities?

Next Steps

On Sept. 7, 2016, the Institute hosted a population health road map summit, at the association’s Washington, DC, headquarters. The summit brought together 26 participants from the association’s membership and other stakeholder organizations to discuss the project’s findings to date.

The Institute used its findings and the summit proceedings to develop a population health road map to help hospitals navigate the process for building programs that improve the health of a community or other population.


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