The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has released the report Time to Act: Investing in the Health of our Children and Communities which highlights recommendations from the RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America. The commission has one focus: find better methods for improving the health of all Americans.
The report offers three main recommendations.
- Invest in the foundations of lifelong physical and mental well-being in our youngest children
- Create communities that foster health-promoting behaviors
- Broaden health care to promote health outside of the medical system
Community Commons supports these ideas and, over the next few weeks, will highlight each one individually to share stories, data, and reporting tools that can help you act on these recommendations and improve health in your community. Read recommendation one and recommendation two.
The report further defines this into three actions:
- Adopt new health “vital signs” to assess nonmedical indicators for health.
- Create incentives tied to reimbursement for health professionals and health care institutions to address nonmedical factors that affect health.
- Incorporate nonmedical health measures into community health needs assessments (CHNA).
Action 1: Adopt new health “vital signs”
“Clinical vital signs include heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, weight, and height. But other, nonmedical vital signs—such as employment, education, health literacy, or safe housing—can also significantly impact health. Health professionals and health care institutions must incorporate these new vital signs into their routines to broaden their understanding of factors affecting their patients’ health.”–Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities
The Community Commons Map Gallery is an excellent place to look at the health of a community from a nonmedical lens. Commons users have created over 500 maps that show data on factors such as food access, housing costs, pollution rates, and access to mental health facilities. Most maps can be zoomed to your community with the click of a button.
Community Commons also houses County Health Rankings data layers to further help communities look beyond medical measures and truly act on the social determinants of health.
Action 2: Create Incentives Tied to Reimbursement
“Government and private insurers should further expand payment reform innovation to include incentives and measures that relate to identifying and addressing nonmedical factors that affect patient health. Such incentives should also reward health professionals, hospitals, and other health care institutions for screening patients for social needs related to health and working with community partners to link patients with resources appropriate to their needs in the community.”–Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities
The Commons regularly features Guest Voices so that change-makers can learn from national leaders. Robert S. Ogilvie, vice president for strategic engagement at ChangeLab Solutions, wrote Health in All Policies to demonstrate how all sectors of the economy can promote prevention-oriented environments and policies. Linda Shak, program manager and Lily Swartz, communications coordinator at Prevention Institute also touch on this subject in Cultivating Prevention Champions.
Action 3: Incorporate nonmedical health measures into CHNAs
“Under current law, all nonprofit hospitals must conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) every three years and develop an implementation strategy to address identified needs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that assessments include collecting and using information on social determinants of health.”–Time to Act: Investing in the Health of Our Children and Communities
Community Commons supplies the tool you need to create a free supplementary CHNA report that already includes many nonmedical factors, such as high school graduation rates, access to recreation facilities, and violent crime data.
Report Tools – Create a CHNA Report
The report allows you to save and download the data and it provides a variety of data visualizations good for presentations and grant applications.
Thank you for joining us as we connect tools, data, and ideas to the Time to Act: Investing in the Health of our Children and Communities report recommendations. At Community Commons, we believe that a nation full of healthy, thriving communities is closer than you think — and to get there, we’ll need to work and learn together.