Businesses across the nation are involved in every aspect of their communities and the economy and can be powerful partners in terms of improving the health of the nation, said George Isham, a senior advisor at HealthPartners, Inc., a senior fellow at the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research, and a co-chair of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Population Health Improvement. On July 30, 2014, the IOM roundtable held a workshop at the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) in New York City to consider the role of business in improving population health beyond the usual worksite wellness and health promotion activities.2,3 In welcoming participants
1 This workshop was organized by an independent planning committee whose role was limited to the identification of topics and speakers. This workshop summary was prepared by the rapporteur as a factual summary of the presentations and discussion that took place at the workshop. Statements, recommendations, and opinions expressed are those of individual presenters and participants and are not necessarily endorsed or verified by the Institute of Medicine or the roundtable, and they should not be construed as reflecting any group consensus.
2 The working definition of population health used by the roundtable is “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group” (Kindig and Stoddart, 2003). For an expanded discussion of this term, see the roundtable’s website at http://www.iom.edu/pophealthrt. The term “population health” is used in a variety of ways throughout the summary and should be considered in the context of how individual speakers use the term.
3 Extensive research exists that links socioeconomic factors such as income and education to health outcomes. See, for example, Exploring Opportunities for Collaboration Between Health and Education to Improve Population Health: Workshop Summary (IOM, 2015a). http://www.
to NYAM, the academy’s president, Jo Ivey Boufford, said that economic development is a crucial factor in achieving population health and that there are many opportunities to create win–win situations for businesses to promote population health in the communities where they live and serve. She added that in New York State businesses have been a fundamental part of a large, multi-stakeholder group that is implementing a prevention agenda for the state and helping communities to identify and address priority needs.4
The workshop, co-chaired by George Isham and David Kindig, emeritus vice chancellor for health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, followed previous roundtable discussions on the importance of applying a health lens to decision making in non-health sectors and the need for cross-sector collaborations to advance population health (IOM, 2014a). Invited speakers included representatives from several businesses that have taken action to improve the health of their communities and representatives of business coalitions on health.
The roundtable supports workshops for its members, stakeholders, and the public to discuss issues of importance for improving the nation’s health. Isham explained that the roundtable has identified six drivers that it believes are key to improving population health and to where the activities of the roundtable can be designed to stimulate further dialogue and action: metrics, policy, relationships, evidence, resources, and communication. This workshop examined several of these drivers, especially relationships and resources. An independent planning committee, co-chaired by Catherine Baase and Andrew Webber and including Rachel Bright, Alexander Chan, George Isham, James Knickman, and Martín José Sepúlveda, was charged with developing a workshop to explore the role of the private sector in advancing the health of their communities (see Box 1-1). The workshop, titled Business Engagement in Population Health Improvement, was designed to:
- discuss why engaging in population health improvement is good for business;
iom.edu/healthandeducation The effects of business on economic growth, education, and urban planning can contribute to community support that fosters improved health status and security.
4 See http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/prevention_agenda/2013-2017 (accessed December 12, 2014).
An ad hoc committee will plan and conduct a public workshop that will feature invited presentations and discussion of how businesses can participate in improving population health. Specific topics may include the business case for involvement in population health and how businesses can be effective as key players in population health improvement. The committee will define the specific topics to be addressed, develop the agenda, select and invite speakers and other participants, and moderate the discussions. An individually authored summary of the presentations and discussions at the workshop will be prepared by a designated rapporteur in accordance with institutional guidelines.
- explore how businesses can be effective key leaders in improving the health of communities; and
- discuss ways in which businesses can engage in population health improvement.
The workshop consisted of a keynote presentation on “blue zones,” the places with highest longevity around the world (Chapter 2), followed by four panel discussions designed around the topics listed above. Invited speakers and participants considered the case for business engagement in population health improvement (Chapter 3); examples of corporate responsibility projects that affect health in communities, but which were not designed with population health improvement as the primary goal (Chapter 4); case examples of corporate programs intentionally designed to affect population health (Chapter 5); and mechanisms to stimulate and support business engagement in population health improvement, including partnering with other community-based stakeholders (Chapter 6). In the closing session, roundtable members and invited speakers were asked to offer their observations on the main themes that emerged from the workshop sessions and also their perspectives on how to move forward (Chapter 7).