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Community-based care can be viewed as healthcare systems’ way of becoming more patient-centric, by shifting care where possible, closer to the people who need it. Moving the right care to the right setting, at the right time enables providers to intervene sooner when better outcomes are possible. This approach also allows for care to be delivered in a more cost-effective way (without expensive hospital infrastructure and overhead), and in a more readily accessible and convenient manner for patients.

The results of the 2021 Healthcare CEO Future Pulse illustrate that the shift into community-based prevention appears to be catching on – by being integrated into corporate strategies (35 percent), or by being put onto organizational agendas (46 percent); however, substantial implementation of this is still limited (9 percent). Despite respondents representing hospitals, health systems, and integrated provider networks, implementation progress is not vastly different – at 7 percent, 11 percent, and 9 percent, respectively. Despite this being potentially perceived as an existential threat to hospitals, they are not averse to this thinking, with only 12 percent identifying this as something they are not addressing at all; this is consistent with the suggestion that hospitals are open to focusing their efforts on higher value care.

The shift to community-based care not only refers to infrastructure, but in enlisting the community to support the burden of an aging and growing population with increasing multi-morbidities. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of CEOs expect communities to substantially contribute to collective and individual health. Many (70 percent) expect hospitals themselves to evolve into ‘healthcare hubs’ where more complex care is delivered, while the ‘spokes’ of primary care are embedded in the community through multispecialty clinics, primary care physicians, and digitally enabled monitoring.

This aligns with what Sarah Downey, president and CEO of Michael Garron Hospital, a community teaching facility in Toronto, Canada wants for her organization: “Our vision is to create health and build community. We understand that it’s not simply by treating acute conditions that we’ll improve the health of the people we serve. It’s through a broader view of health and partnerships that we’ll help transform lives and empower the people in our neighborhoods.”

The survey data suggest that Downey is progressive compared to other respondents. While many executives (63 percent) said it’s important to shift delivery of care out of hospitals and care facilities and into the community, fewer than one fifth overall (18 percent) are investing time and resources in this area. Even greater disparities play out when looking at shifting from cures to prevention, and from in-person to digital care. Herein lies the gulf between dreams and reality, healthcare leaders know what they need to change; but transformation will not happen without substantial investment of staff time and resources.

The excerpt was taken from KPMG’s Healthcare CEO Future Pulse.