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  • Investing in Community Health — What’s the Business Case?

    Leaders See Importance of Healthy Communities, Need Help Getting Started

    Corporate leaders understand that investing in healthier communities can be good business, but need help in developing and implementing their community health strategy, according to a special article in the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

    Nicholas P. Pronk, PhD, of HealthPartners, Bloomington, Minn., and co-authors report on an invited convening of corporate executives and thought leaders, sponsored by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO). In discussions, the participants identified the most important components of the business case for employer leadership in improving community health.

    Key themes included the need for relevant measures of employee and community health, and for companies to be able to show a return on their investments in community health. Barriers included lack of understanding of the connection between community health and its impact on business, as well as the absence of a “playbook” outlining what companies can do to make a difference in the health of communities.

    While business leaders understand “why” it makes sense to engage in community health improvement, they need answers to the “what” and “how” questions that will guide the next steps. Dr. Pronk and co-authors write, “This issue may not necessarily be more complex than many other business challenges, but may be one where executives feel unprepared and are perhaps uncertain how to proceed and how to be effective.”

    Building on their findings, the authors have developed a “guiding framework” to aid in building the business case for corporate investment in community health. Dr. Pronk and colleagues conclude, “As business considers its role in society, explicit and international action to address community health needs will provide legitimacy and purpose, recognition and sustainable business success.”

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    Citation — Pronk NP, Baase C, Noyce J, Stevens DE. Corporate America and community health: exploring the business case for investment. J Occup Environ Med. 2015;57(5):493-500.

    About the Author — Dr. Pronk may be contacted for interviews at nico.p.pronk@healthpartners.com.

    About ACOEM — ACOEM (www.acoem.org), an international society of 4,500 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.

    About the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine — The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.