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Nursing Informatics & Technology: A Blog for All Levels of Users

Building Healthy Communities Via Technology

Published October 27, 2016 9:36 AM by Susan Sportsman
Nurses have an important role to play in the healthy community movement. The design, construction, and growth of healthy communities require nurses to build a diverse set of skills in informatics, data analytics, public health, and the social determinants of health.

Healthy communities emerge

Healthy communitiesalso known as healthy places or environmentsare "designed and built to improve the quality of life for all people who live, work, worship, learn, and play within their borderswhere every person is free to make choices amid a variety of healthy, available, accessible, and affordable options," according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).  

Healthy community design, which is championed by the American Planning Association, preserves natural and cultural resources; distributes development costs; expands transportation, housing, and employment; ensures sustainability; and promotes public health and healthy communities.

Surfing "the second wave"

The healthcare industry already sees healthy communities as the "second wave of population health," says the Healthy Communities Institute. While more traditional population health focuses on chronic disease management and health promotion, the concept of healthy communities is anchored in a more expansive set of criteria, according to a guide from the American Hospital Association. Among the healthy community standards are the following:

  • Value-based reimbursement
  • Seamless care across all settings
  • Proactive, systematic patient education
  • Workplace education on population health
  • HIT that supports risk stratification of patients
  • Partnerships for community-based solutions

Equally important is the growing list of "social determinants of health," which include variables like housing, access to care, literacy, incarceration, environment, poverty, education, and insurance coverage, according to the American Publication Health Association and Healthy People 2020.

Technology enables healthy communities    

Hospitals, health systems, public health departments, and community and employer coalitions will increasingly tap data from clinical visits, healthcare claims, and community-level assessments to strengthen healthy communities.   

Doing so will deliver more accurate, timely insights into demographics, risk factors, and the distribution of diseases like congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, diabetes, and obesity.

With a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health in specific neighborhoods, communities, and service areas, nurses can design and adapt interventions to improve health outcomes.

Technology for Healthy Communities, which focuses on "connecting communities with sustainable health technologies," has already identified technologies needed to improve community health. Among them are the following:

  • Social determinants of health screening and analytics
  • Remote monitoring
  • Telehealth
  • Education and engagement
  • Chronic disease management
  • Community health decision support

How can nurses thrive in an environment focused on value-based care, population health, and building healthy communities? Among the recommendations for training and education are the following:

Form an interprofessional collaborative to pursue healthy community design and improvement. Get started by reviewing the CDC's Healthy Community Design Checklist.

1 comments

For a generation, our online lives are our offline lives. Instructing nurses on how to leverage Social Media could greatly enhance the health of many communities. Feel free to reach out.

Warmly,

Amelia

@rn_solutions ( Twitter and Instagram )

Amelia December 12, 2016 1:36 PM
Rockville MD

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    Occupation: Nursing informatics experts and enthusiasts
    Setting: Various settings in healthcare and academia
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