Many healthcare organizations have improved health outcomes while forging community partnerships that focus on prevention and accountability. But how will these endeavors shape up in the future? For this discussion, moderator Niyum Gandhi, executive vice president and chief population officer at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City talked with Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare; Dr. Bechara Choucair, Kaiser Permanente's chief community health officer; and Michael Ugwueke, CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. Gandhi started by asking the panelists what was most important in their ability to serve their communities.
Leadership Symposium: Pioneering approaches to population health
Harrison: We based a lot of our activity around our Community Health Needs Assessment, which I think can be just an exercise for many organizations, but we've actually gone deep. We're interested in hypertension and preventing diabetes, but we also have identified opioid misuse as something of extraordinary importance to our community. Utah ranks in the top seven states nationally in terms of deaths from opioid misuse. And we see about half the people in our state and in southern Utah in a year—but we aren't big enough to do everything by ourselves, and nor should we, and so we work with the community. But, in fact, we are probably the biggest problem in the community. Intermountain writes about 400,000 opioid prescriptions per year and puts about 19 million pills into our community, so it's about 10 for every Utahan on an annual basis. So we've pledged to take 5 million pills off the street per year. And through data, we found that in many cases, there's a 10-times difference between two clinicians for the same procedure. And these aren't bad doctors. They've just been trained differently. And we think we can drop the average number of pills per prescription by 40% without any impact on health except for a good impact.
Choucair: Kaiser Permanente has around 12 million members and we are in communities where 65 million people live. Since the day we were founded 70-plus years ago, we were about improving the health and well-being of our members. But we know very well that there's no way we can optimize the health and well-being of our members if we don't do the same in the communities where they live. And yes, it is the right thing to do, the nice thing to do, it's all these things we do to maintain our tax-exempt status—but it's really core to our strategy. So we realized through our Community Health Needs Assessment that childhood obesity is an issue, healthy eating/active living is an issue, and one of the efforts that we've engaged in is called HEAL Cities, or the Healthy Eating and Active Living Cities initiative, where over the past eight years and in about five states, we've worked with 2,400 elected officials to change policy in those cities. And as someone who has run a health department in one of the largest cities in the country, to say that we've changed about 1,000 policies in 330 cities where 20 million people live-that allow healthier food in schools, more bike lanes, things we know make a difference in childhood obesity-that's an example of how we approach one specific issue.
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