Building Healthy Neighborhoods - The Brookings Institution

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Building Healthy Neighborhoods is an ongoing series from the The Brookings Institution, exploring “the crucial elements to build a culture of health, education and economic mobility in lower-income communities.” Featuring a number relevant discussion papers/posts, the series aims to review ideas and strategies that use community institutions, social programs, and data to improve outcomes for citizens. One example is the JAMA Forum post Can Hospitals Help Create Healthy Neighborhoods? Stuart M. Butler, PhD and Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, focuses on “upstream” population health actions and how hospitals can be involved in community health early in the process. Butler notes that “the success of ‘hotspot’ strategies, as well as other initiatives undertaken by the medical system to address the social determinants of health, is prodding many hospitals to rethink their role in the community.” Policies around readmissions of Medicare patients and the adoption of the community health needs assessment (CHNA) are both noted as drivers of more community health involvement by hospitals.

Butler goes on to note the challenges that hospitals face when attempting to integrate with communities to address social determinants of health, including issues with information sharing and financial obstacles. He then closes out the article by citing four steps that hospitals can take to increase community partnerships: attention to the measurement of hospital impact; more effective information sharing; exploring alternatives to funding challenges; and securing financial support from government jurisdictions.

In other reports, the Brookings Institution explores topics such as How Public Libraries Can Help Build Community Health, School-Centered Approaches to Improve Community Health, and how Social Spending, Not Medical Spending, is Key to Health. DCHI’s own Healthy Neighborhoods initiative explores many of these same topics in “real time” by engaging multiple statewide stakeholders from government, local health systems, community organizations, insurers, and area employers to address population health challenges. Delaware’s Healthy Neighborhoods Committee identifies and builds on existing infrastructure in each region to target four statewide priority areas: healthy lifestyles; maternal and child health; mental health and addiction; and chronic disease prevention and management. For more information, please visit us at

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