While I’ve been in health care my entire career, I’ve never spent much time understanding the foundations of what we refer to as ‘public health’ even though in many of my capacities within health systems I’ve had responsibility for linking strategy to the mission of the nonprofit health system which almost universally calls for improving the health of communities they serve. That call to action within the mission of a health system has always perplexed me as I’ve not really believed that it is the sole responsibility or even the lead responsibility of a hospital to improve the public’s health. But they do need to be active partners in community wide efforts. While nonprofit hospitals are legislatively required to do periodic community needs assessments and then to demonstrate how they impact unmet health needs via their annual submission of the IRS 990 Schedule H known as the Community Benefits Report, in my observation, many hospitals go through this perfunctory exercise and offer programs and services to their communities with good intent of helping to improve overall health status, but they do so mostly in in a silo. Their efforts are, hence, often scattered and impact is diluted.
The Socio Ecological Model may sound academic but it has been used successfully as a framework for advancing collective societal change. It has gotten notoriety around improving healthy eating and physical activity as of late. And, these are the foundations of good health status. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-3/social-ecological-model/
So, this week I was invigorated to hear a statewide organization called It’s Time Texas present on their use of the Socio Ecological Model as a framework for organizing disparate organizations and people at a community grassroots level around focusing efforts and resources so that combined they can move the needle in improving community health status. Dr. Baker Harrell was singing off my own song sheet and it was exciting and refreshing. This quote off their website says it all and I encourage any individual or entity interested in community health improvement to take a look at the support, resources and tools found at It’s Time Texas https://itstimetexas.org/. This very well may be a model for others to adopt and scale. Health is the responsibility of each of us and as a society combined. What are you going to do support the movement towards making America healthy?
“Unhealthy has become the new normal. Chronic diseases associated with unhealthy lifestyles and communities have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. and the related costs threaten to bankrupt our country and way of life.
IT’S TIME to make healthy easier.”
At Blaze Advisors, our work is focused on the premise that through better aligned financial incentives, providers can re-design health care to improve the overall health of the populations served. If you are interested and inspired as I was this week, please follow up with us on our website. We’d love to hear your perspectives on how to garner more momentum through collective change!