The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust asked the ncIMPACT Initiative to conduct a study of possible strategies to improve health outcomes in North Carolina with an emphasis on influencing the drivers of those outcomes. The ncIMPACT team focused on qualitative research, interviewing over twenty experts in the field. In addition, we administered surveys to the Trust’s staff and completed an extensive review of the academic literature and state demographics. We identified the following areas of opportunity.
- Emerging technological advancements offer unprecedented opportunities for patient diagnosis, patient care, and payment models. However, health-care actors must be vigilant in ensuring that these technologies take into account the best interests of patients who may need support developing sufficient agency to maximize benefits and mitigate downsides. These health-care actors must push back against a pure focus on reducing costs or increasing profit margins.
- The key to improving population-health indicators in the near future lies in our ability to improve our children’s social, economic, and physical conditions. The issues are generational.
- Basic needs, such as housing, food, and transportation, must be met in a comprehensive application of health care before population-health indicators will improve.
- The data suggest a need for more partnerships among social-needs organizations and members of the medical community. Improving health outcomes will require social-needs and medical-care organizations to move beyond their disciplinary silos and find high-value ways to work together within and across their sectors.
- Local community members must be the ones to guide their community’s health-improvement strategies. Barriers to improving health outcomes have proved resistant to one-size-fits-all approaches.
- The lack of geographic proximity to providers is a significant barrier for some residents of rural communities seeking access to quality health care. Attracting providers and enhancing telemedicine are essential to improving health and economic outcomes for those communities.
- Health-care actors must acknowledge and address systematic racism before they can expect to meaningfully reduce racial disparities in health.