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Transforming Care: Reporting on Health System Improvement

Transforming Care, The Commonwealth Fund’s newest publication, focuses on new models of care, payment approaches, and patient engagement strategies that have the potential to reshape our delivery system to better meet the needs of the nation’s sickest and most vulnerable patients. Published quarterly, the newsletter is a source of innovative ideas for health system leaders, clinicians, and policymakers.

In the article below, Practice Greenhealth members use community benefit funds to address determinants of community health. Specifically:

ProMedica- Addressing food insecurity with onsite "Food Pharmacies"

Bon Secours: Improving economic equality by improving access to housing, jobs, and loan capital

Dignity Health: Providing access to housing through land and building donations and grants

Trinity Health: Offering grants, low- or no-interest loans, and technical assistance to six community coalitions


September 27, 2016 Issue

In Focus: Hospitals Invest in Building Stronger, Healthier Communities

Several large health systems are using community benefit dollars and money from community investment funds to reach beyond the walls of their institutions and address the upstream determinants of health—including access to safe housing, healthy food, and employment.

By Martha Hostetter and Sarah Klein

To retain their tax-exempt status, private nonprofit hospitals—which make up roughly 60 percent of U.S. hospitals—have a legal obligation to give back to their communities. Most do so by providing free care to uninsured patients, making up for Medicaid shortfalls, offering medical training, or sponsoring disease awareness campaigns and health fairs—all of which can be declared as “community benefit” on tax returns. A small minority are going beyond this, devoting revenues and portions of their investment portfolios in innovative ways intended to address the upstream determinants of health, including lack of access to healthy food and safe housing. The hospitals that have ventured into this area do so in part out of recognition that health is the product of much more than health care, with factors like poverty and education playing an outsize role.   Most if not all are also mission-driven organizations or integrated delivery systems that have assumed financial risk for caring for large populations of patients.

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