In the meantime, we urge all not-for-profit healthcare organizations to adopt as quickly as possible, where they haven’t already, six specific community-benefit practices. They embrace principles developed under a recent three-year demonstration project, Advancing the State of the Art in Community Benefit, as well as guidelines developed by the Catholic Health Association, VHA and the Hospital Community Benefits Standards Program developed by New York University.
- Establish and maintain a board-level standing committee on community benefit (or use the full board) to plan, oversee and evaluate the results of the organization’s community benefit programs and activities, with regular reporting by the committee to the full board.
- Establish community benefit responsibilities in the job description, and community benefit objectives in the annual goals (including incorporation into any incentive compensation) of the CEO—and other managers as appropriate.
- Assign one individual in the organization—reporting to the CEO or to a senior manager reporting to the CEO (or perhaps the CEO in a smaller organization)—to oversee and coordinate the organization’s ongoing community benefit programs and activities, both internally and externally.
- Establish and regularly update a community benefit plan and budget as an integral part of the organization’s overall operating plan and budget. Included in the plan should be: An assessment of the health status of the community(s) served, based on the best available information; criteria used to prioritize needs to be addressed and programs to address those needs; and metrics used to monitor and assess program progress and results.
- Include the following as priorities in the organization’s community benefit goals:Improve healthcare access and/or health status of, or reduce health disparities among, the uninsured, the underinsured and/or other vulnerable populations in ways that reduce their needs for preventable, costly emergency room care, inpatient admissions or readmissions; and help protect one or more of the region’s healthcare safety net organizations.
Join with the leaders of other healthcare organizations, including both providers and plans, other private-sector community leaders, as well as state and/or local government officials, in voluntary regional health planning mechanisms that share and coordinate community benefit plans. This might entail expanding or refocusing the participants or agendas of any existing multistakeholder coalitions
No organization that is vital to its community will fail. The challenge for each is to make certain that it is—and is recognized as being—vital.
This is the right thing to do in any environment, but not since the Great Depression has it been more imperative.
President and CEOAlliance for Advancing Nonprofit Healthcare