Research has demonstrated that where people live, work, and play affects their life expectancy, stress levels, and incidence of chronic diseases. Yet in disadvantaged communities, structural racism and conventional market activity have created barriers and perceived risks that impede the very flow of capital that could transform these environments into places of opportunity.
Hospitals and health systems have a variety of assets—such as financial resources, land, and expertise—that would make them valuable participants in the community investment system that helps direct capital to these underserved communities.
Our new report, Improving Community Health by Strengthening Community Investment: Roles for Hospitals and Health Institutions, found that those institutions that have undertaken community investment are convinced that their early efforts have important strategic value and are very much worth doing.
We found that health institutions utilized a wide variety of strategies to invest in improving social determinants of health in their communities. They used a range of resources, selected a variety of types of investment vehicles, targeted diverse interventions, and partnered with a range of other organizations, from community groups and nonprofits to other anchors, foundations, and local government.
By looking systematically at the early examples of hospitals that are making community investments, we hope to ease the way for other institutions to tread this path, ultimately to arrive at healthier communities.