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Population Health Fuel? Community-Based Initiatives

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 23, 2013

"Similarly, if you have a problem with falls among the elderly, look at what happens in the community. You can do the best diagnostics in the world in the healthcare setting or you can be in the hospital dealing with the consequences of those falls, but the real prevention is going to happen in the community."

There are many good reasons to embrace these community-based initiatives. First of all, they're not a bunch of touchy-feely gobbledygook. These are concrete, common sense ideas that have been shown to work.

For example:

  • The Partnership for an Active Community Environment steering committee in New Orleans, LA installed a six-block walking path and school playground in a low-income neighborhood. The proportion of residents who were active increased significantly in the neighborhood with the path and playground, where 41% of those engaging in physical activity were moderately or vigorously active, compared to 24% to 38% of residents in similar neighborhoods without the path.
  • Nearly 300 urban, poor children with asthma from four zip codes were identified through logs of emergency department visits or hospitalizations, and offered enhanced care including nurse case management and home visits. One year of data show a significant decrease in any asthma ED visits and hospitalizations, and any days of limitation of physical activity, patient missed school, and parent missed work. There was a significant reduction in hospital costs compared with the comparison community, and a return on investment of $1.46.
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