Investing in Community-Led Health

Dr. Candice Matthews

March 7, 2023

Investing in Community

Health systems have an array of assets land, financial capital and expertise that can be put to work to address social determinants of health.

Investing in community-led health can be a significant part of hospitals’ efforts to contain health costs while improving patient outcomes. But it also requires an in-depth understanding of the challenges and a strong business case for investing.

Public-Private Partnerships

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) – once thought of as financing tools best suited for infrastructure projects – have emerged as innovative solutions to expanding and improving health access. They can create economies of scale and expand healthcare access for underserved populations.

A public-private partnership is a long-term contract in which the private sector bears significant risk and management responsibility for a public asset or service, relying on a recognition that the private sector has specific advantages relative to the public sector.

One PPP model involves the public sector partnering with the private sector to provide clinical services in exchange for payments from patients or insurance companies. It is more efficient than traditional government-run healthcare delivery and can lead to higher-quality outcomes.

Community-Based Organizations

Community-based organizations (CBOs) are nonprofit membership organizations that focus on issues and concerns at the local level, such as housing, health, education, microfinance, and safe water and sanitation. They often work with people of low incomes and may be part of larger, government-run systems.

Community organization is a form of organizational organizing that includes direct action and social and political mobilization. It involves a variety of strategies, such as inclusive networking, interpersonal organizing, listening, reflexivity, cooperation, mutual aid and social care, prefiguration, popular education, and direct democracy.

In addition to addressing specific issues, most CBOs work on multiple issues simultaneously. For example, the Magnolia Community Initiative in New Haven, Connecticut, is a collaborative effort that engages government, nonprofit and private entities to improve the lives of residents.

Health Equity Zones

Health Equity Zones, or HEZ, are geographic areas where residents experience a disproportionate share of identified health inequities. 

The Rhode Island Department of Health is leveraging federal, state, and local sources of prevention, definite disease, and population health funding to create place-based “Health Equity Zones,” geographic areas designed to achieve health equity by eliminating health disparities and promoting healthy communities.

RIDOH invests in a collaborative community infrastructure within each HEZ, weaving together funds from multiple sources to support various place-based initiatives that advance health equity in Rhode Island’s diverse communities.

Purchasing Power

Purchasing Power is the value of a currency based on how many goods and services it can buy. Losing or gaining purchasing power is caused by inflation, changing interest rates, and income fluctuations.

Globalization has connected currencies more closely than ever, so protecting purchasing power worldwide is critical for consumers and businesses. Central banks often adjust interest rates to stabilize prices and maintain purchasing power.

To promote community-led health, we need to reorient health financing schemes to prevent and promote health rather than just providing facility-based care. This means bringing health to the forefront of public policy.