Gary Young, director of the Northeastern University Center for Health Policy and Healthcare Research in Boston spoke to me for my quality column in Health Leaders Media this week. The column looked at the role social services play in promoting health.
He said the Accountable Care Act’s Community Health Needs Assessment requirement is intended to integrate hospitals more tightly into the public health Infrastructure. They’re already required to demonstrate “community benefit” spending to the IRS. Compliance with that requirement is spotty.
As it is, Young’s research team recently reported wide variation in community benefit spending by hospitals.
“Hospitals have always been focused on treatment and not prevention and promotion,” Young says. “That’s what they’ve been paid to do. From a cultural standpoint, that’s the orientation of hospitals. “
They do not have the infrastructure—intellectual or material—to deal with community health, he says. However, they are facing a paradigm shift.