Six communities, $80 million: Trinity Health's big bet on population health

'It is not enough to just treat illness,' SVP says

Trinity Health last week announced that it will invest about $80 million in the coming years in an effort to lower health costs and fight key causes of chronic diseases in six communities, Maria Castellucci reports for Modern Healthcare.

Trinity will provide the funds through grants, community match dollars, services, and loans.

Any community that includes one of the not-for-profit system's 88 hospitals is eligible to apply for the initiative, and the system will announce the winners in January.

Each of the six selected communities will receive up to $500,000 annually for up to five years to develop "detailed, community-specific plans to address childhood obesity, healthy living, and smoking," according to a release. The communities can apply for additional low-interest investment loans to address specific issues, such as housing circumstances and access to food.

Three key elements for successful population health management

The chosen communities will also team up with Trinity partner organizations, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids—which will work to help implement policies to curb tobacco use—and AmeriCorps, which will help high-risk and at-risk community members navigate health care services.

"As a health system, it is not enough to just treat illness," says Bechara Choucair, Trinity's SVP for safety net and community health. "We need to be part of the business of creating health in our communities."

Choucair says the $80 million investment should lead to lower health care costs by reducing major causes of chronic health problems, such as obesity and tobacco use. Choucair adds that the investment is part of the roughly $1 billion per year that the system provides for community benefit programs.

As health care increasingly moves to value-based payments, it's increasingly beneficial for hospitals to focus on public wellness, health care law expert Jack Nelson tells Modern Healthcare.

"The line between public health and medical care has blurred," says Nelson. "Medical care is only part of the picture health care is based on" (Castellucci, Modern Healthcare, 11/19; Trinity Health release, 11/19).

Learn about the BUILD Health Challenge

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BUILD Health is creating and expanding meaningful partnerships among health systems, community-based organizations, local health departments, and other organizations.

The goal? To identify and address the complex, upstream problems that influence the overall health of local residents.

Watch our video to hear from several funded communities about their efforts to give everyone a chance to live a healthy life.

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