Although health care systems deliver care for patients with chronic diseases, most medical centers are ill-equipped to tackle the social determinants of health themselves. This is a significant blind spot for the vision of a patient-centered, population health–driven system, and one that community health trusts could help address. In this article, the authors offer Community Health Trusts as a solution, funded by hospital systems and others, which would support community-based prevention. Traditionally, community benefit has been interpreted expansively: it includes certain types of patient care, research, and education, as well as community health activities. The most salient health issues in any community—such as obesity and tobacco use—are likely to require collective action across health systems. However, at the local level, individual hospital systems attempting to address community benefit requirements may result in somewhat arbitrary and uncoordinated health improvement efforts. Instead of siloed efforts, a modest proportion of total funds dedicated by each hospital to community benefit could be put toward a common investment in proven, evidence-based public health priorities, such as those recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force.
Tags: Addressing social determinants of health , Hub or network structures , Publicly Available