- A new study in Health Affairs suggests that multisector partnerships can reduce the number of preventable deaths in a community.
- The study showed a drop in mortality rates of more than 20% for influenza, heart disease, diabetes, and infant mortality where coordinated efforts were devoted to population health.
- Lesser improvements of 14% and 7% were seen in cancer and all-cause mortality, respectively.
The partnerships extend beyond the healthcare system to include social and environmental influences on a population’s overall health, such as housing, food security, employment, and early childhood developers.
In 2014, nearly 40% of U.S. metropolitan communities had achieved system capital levels associated with drops in mortality seen in the study. However, less than half of Americans reside in communities with comprehensive system capital, the researchers say. Efforts to raise system capital could narrow the geographic and socioeconomic gap in health outcomes in the U.S.
A number of organizations in and outside healthcare are partnering to advance public health. At the University of Maryland, the Center for Health Equity is partnering with Cigna and area barbershops to promote colorectal screening. And the University of Mississippi Medical Center has partnered with telecommunications company C Spire and Intel-GE Care Innovations to bring telehealth services to residents in rural communities across the state.
The new study also points to “highly fragmented” delivery and financing systems for public health and social services, which limit the effectiveness of outreach efforts.
Jim Hickman, CEO of California-based Better Health East Bay, which is in a public-private partnership to reduce unnecessary emergency department use, agrees. “The traditional ‘silos’ of medical, behavioral health and social services can’t meet the needs of our population alone,” he recently told Healthcare Dive. “Partnerships, enabled by technology and amplified by data-sharing, are the first step in changing the way we deliver care.”