Population Health Fuel? Community-Based Initiatives

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 23, 2013

Plus, many of these strategies involve local leaders working with one another to improve their communities. This is not about some federal mandate. This is about hospital leaders working with their local United Way and other civic leaders to provide tangible improvements to the communities they love and serve.

And finally, perhaps most importantly, many of these strategies engage the people in the community to take an active role in improving their health. Nobody wants to be morbidly obese. But if you're a low-wage manual laborer who comes home after dark to unlighted streets with no sidewalks in a crime-infested neighborhood, it is hard to muster enthusiasm for a walk around the block. Likewise, it's hard to eat fresh vegetables and other healthy food if the only nearby shopping is cans on a shelf at the Kwik-E-Mart.

"Everyone wants to be healthy and sometimes it's for different reasons. But they also face obstacles. If we remove those obstacles, I think people will make the healthier choices," Levi says. "Personal responsibility is certainly paramount, but you cannot expect people to exercise that personal responsibility in an environment that doesn't support it. We need to be making the healthy choice the easy choice."

And now, more than ever, hospital and physician leaders have the opportunity to make that happen for the people they serve, their neighbors.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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