>>>4 Population Health Challenges for Small and Rural Hospitals
"The change, although it's new, is not new," Martin says. "Here we have an emphasis with the ACA coming on line in 2014 and the requirement of of community benefit, so you are seeing more emphasis on the fact that hospitals cannot do all of this work alone when you step out of the four walls. So we are working with our partners and stakeholders to move our communities to better health and wellness and our hospitals play a critical role in doing that very thing, not just within the hospital to make someone well but also well while they are outside of the hospital setting."
Now, the focus will be more concentrated toward prevention, disease management, and promoting wellness activities. Not all hospitals are in a position to act on these three prongs in the value-based model.
While hospitals are the logical providers of disease management, for example, it might make sense to work with the local public health agency to identify and prioritize the health threats your community faces so you can collaborate devise an effective population health improvement strategy.
Likewise, the wellness component might be best handled by gaining the active support of business leaders, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to promote workplace wellness initiatives. The local United Way or the community department of parks and recreation, or the mayor's office could be recruited to sponsor healthy activities and events promoting physical activity and good nutrition.
"It's the hospital that will play the vital role in that population health community benefit," Martin says.