Essential hospitals improve population health through innovative approaches to address the social determinants of health and promote community-integrated health care. Several presentations on population health at VITAL2018, our annual meeting, highlighted key insights from population health leaders.

1. Think outside of the box to provide better care and improve population health

Leaders from Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI), in Dallas, created an information exchange platform that focuses on the health and social needs of the community. The information exchange uses an innovative data network to share data bidirectionally with community service agencies, such as a food bank and housing providers, by tracking common patients to offer more coordinated services.

PCCI leaders shared their work to decrease adverse health events among under-resourced populations with hypertension and diabetes. These populations had an 8 percent drop in emergency department visits, compared to a 46 percent increase in visits in the nonintervention group. Patients also support the program; 90 percent agree that they were better able to manage their disease and more likely to fill their prescriptions.

2. Tackle the social determinants of health by increasing access to patient’s daily needs

Food insecurity, or lack of access to nutritious, substantial food, generates more than $77 billion in additional health care costs. Cissie Bonini, executive director of EatSF, presented on this innovative food voucher program affiliated with the Center for Vulnerable Populations at the University of California San Francisco. EatSF was created to support fruit and vegetable purchases in low-income households. Participants enroll through community-based organizations and receive $20 to $40 per month in fruit and vegetable vouchers for six months. Through this program, EatSF has increased fruit and vegetable intake by nearly one full serving per day.

3. Make health equity a priority to drive program improvements and reduce health disparities

Leaders from the San Francisco Health Network focused on equity as a strategic theme to improve population health in the city. They developed metrics to reduce health disparities in blood pressure control among African Americans. This intervention included a team-based care and food pharmacy model to provide diet and lifestyle support while increasing access to healthy fruits and vegetables.

Leaders from Navicent Health, in Macon, Ga., also presented on their efforts to promote health equity by focusing on their guiding objective of creating healthy communities. Navicent Initiatives is a grounded in the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity pledge. As part of the pledge, Navicent Health discussed their plans to:

  • increase the collection and use of race, ethnicity, language preference, and other socio-demographic data;
  • increase cultural competency training;
  • increase diversity in leadership and governance; and
  • improve community partnerships

Don’t miss valuable insights like these and many others next year, at VITAL2019, June 19–21, in Miami. Our call for presentation and poster proposals opens Oct. 1.