As hospitals, health systems, and health plans become increasingly interested in community investment, CCI is frequently asked about how investment translates to health outcomes. What’s challenging about answering these questions is that investing in the social determinants of health is a relatively new intervention for health institutions. We know that the social determinants have a significant effect on individual and community health, for instance, when differences in social determinants in different communities create disparities in asthma prevalence and severity. We know that community investment can improve the social determinants, for example, by reducing vacancy and creating healthy and affordable homes, which in turn reduce asthma. However, few health institutions have been investing in their communities for long enough, and at a large enough scale, to measure with confidence the direct and/or long-term effects of their efforts.
One hospital that has been investing in nearby neighborhoods for a meaningful length of time is Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH), whose Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Family community development initiative has been making a difference in Columbus, Ohio, since 2008. In a new paper, A Community Development Program and Reduction in High-Cost Health Care Use, published this week in Pediatrics, researchers at NCH (a participant in CCI’s Accelerating Investments for Healthy Communities initiative), tackle the question of outcomes. Their findings suggest that community development activities may influence children’s healthcare use. As importantly, their research provides a model for rigorous, multidisciplinary outcomes measurement that will be useful to the field for many years to come.
- Learn more about Nationwide Children's Hospital's Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Family community development initiative at by clicking this link.
- The effects of COVID-19 are hitting hospitals and communities hard across the country. Our new issue brief, COVID-19 and Community Development: Considerations for Affordable Housing and Health Care Partnerships, uses Healthy Homes as a case study to explore why hospital investment in affordable housing will remain critical in the aftermath of this crisis. Primary author Kelly J. Keller, MD, MPH, is one of the coauthors of the article described above.
- Explore Upstream All The Way: Why Pioneering Health Institutions Are Investing Upstream to Improve Community Health, an issue brief that highlights some of the lessons CCI has learned about the motivations driving health institutions to invest in the social determinants of health in their communities.
- Learn more about CCI's Accelerating Investments for Healthy Communities initiative at centerforcommunityinvestment.org/aihc.