A recent guide from the AHA's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative examines how hospitals and care systems are increasingly prioritizing population health to improve the health of both patients and the overall community.

Myriad forces are driving hospitals and systems to address an array of socioeconomic and environmental factors and provide preventive care. For many organizations, managing population health will require making challenging organizational and cultural changes to support new goals. Though the rate and extent to which organizations engage in these initiatives may vary, a significant shift toward population health is anticipated in the next three to five years.

"The Second Curve of Population Health" builds on prior AHA reports that outline a road map for hospitals as they move from the first curve of providing fee-for-service care to the second curve of value-based care and population health. The tactics described in the guide provide a framework for hospitals and systems to develop an institutional infrastructure that supports population health. They are value-based reimbursement; seamless care across all settings; proactive and systematic patient education; workplace competencies and education on population health; integrated, comprehensive health information technology that supports risk stratification of patients with real-time accessibility; and mature community partnerships to collaborate on community-based solutions.

The guide also includes metrics to monitor progress and case examples.

As established community stakeholders, hospitals can lead population health transformation. They should challenge themselves to reach beyond their walls and partner with community organizations to implement innovative approaches that sustainably improve total population health. I encourage you to read and share the report [see Executive Briefing and www.hpoe.org for the full report] with your board colleagues as you think about your organization's transformation to the second curve.

Bina Eggensperger (bina@blackfoot.net), is COG chair and a trustee of Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains, Mont.