We hear people talking about population health more often than we did before. This trend is likely to continue as healthcare organizations are working to reduce costs and increase patient value.
Population health is about individualized care and intervening earlier to get a better outcome based on what works for the population. This thinking allows caregivers to see trends across groups of patients and can help them better address their specific needs.
This fall, Community Health Network East, located in Indianapolis, IN, hosted a Catalysis Healthcare Value Network gemba visit and showcased the work they are doing to improve the health of their community. This visit redefined the way I think about population health.
Some of the ways Community Health Network focuses on population health are:
Keeping People Out of the Hospital
Community Health Network puts a lot of effort into keeping people out of the hospital. One way they address the issue of patients coming back to the ED is to set up a “Discharge Alley.” This is an area within the emergency department that includes information on services and resources that can help patients.
Helping People Eat Healthy
Getting proper nutrition is a vital aspect of health. Community Health Network spends a lot of time and resources to help encourage people in the community to eat better. The hospital sells fruits, vegetables, and goat cheese in the cafeteria that are grown and produced at a neighborhood school.
They even have a hospital employee who works full-time at the local food bank to help get food to those in need.
Building Financial Stability in Neighborhoods
Community Health Network realizes that employee stability and morale is impacted by things outside the work environment, like financial pressures. Their HR department established a program that will give employees a $20,000 loan to use as a down payment on a house in the neighborhood around the hospital. If the employee stays with CHN East for the next five years, the total loan amount is forgiven. They also have a similar program for home improvements for employees which loans $10,000 with the same terms.
Community Health Network has established many programs and services to help improve the community they serve. This is a great example of truly adding value to the patient. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next for Community Health Network East.
Please share your comments or learnings about population health in the comments section below.
Chris Weisbrod, Network Manager