There has been growing interest within the health care sector to engage in work to improve population health. In part, this interest was sparked by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires nonprofit hospitals to conduct Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs). The evolution toward value-based payment models may further incentivize hospitals’ involvement in population health.
This issue brief presents findings from 14 key-informant interviews with 11 public health institutes, two representatives of health systems and one university. Respondents discussed the definition of population health, potential benefits and challenges for hospitals addressing population health, and approaches used by hospitals to operationalize population health work.
Key points from the brief include:
- Hospitals can address population health by tackling broader social determinants of health and health disparities, and by focusing on populations beyond their own patients.
- Internal drivers that can facilitate hospitals’ work in population health include buy-in from hospital leadership and board, staff positions dedicated to population health and a financial outcome influenced by social determinants of health.
- Barriers to hospitals’ engagement in population health include a lack of consolidated strategy across all payers, unclear reimbursement structure for working on social determinants of health, and inability to address root causes of poor health outcomes.
- A key strategy to help hospitals advance population health work is to identify financial streams to support it.
The Kansas Health Institute (KHI) delivers objective information, conducts credible research, and supports civil dialogue enabling policy leaders to make informed health policy decisions that enhance their effectiveness as champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.