Free Webinars Help Hospitals Improve Community Health

By: Allison Hydzik

The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that nonprofit hospitals and health systems complete a “Community Health Needs Assessment” has given healthcare providers the opportunity to further improve health in the communities they serve.

It’s also opened the door to confusion about the best way to achieve that goal.
That’s why the  Pennsylvania Public Health Training Center, which is based at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, created a free, first-of-its-kind webinar series.
“Most hospitals are primarily concerned about having the right services in place to address individual patient needs and have been understandably cautious about venturing into the broad un-reimbursable field of public health and, specifically, community health,” said George Huber, J.D., M.S.I.E.,M.S.S.M., associate dean for policy at Pitt Public Health.  Mr. Huber, a board member of the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania, conceived the initiative.
“However, improving community health has historically been a focus of most American hospitals,” he said. “Public health experts are here to help hospital leadership achieve this goal while meeting Affordable Care Act requirements and maximizing benefits to hospitals and the communities they serve.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, nonprofit hospitals and health systems must collect data, engage their communities, build a strategic plan to address identified community health needs, implement interventions to improve community health and analyze their results every three years.
The Pitt Public Health team incorporates the latest public health research and best practices into their webinars. The team aims to help hospitals wade through the wealth of existing information and data on community health, such as birth rates and mortality, which can aid in performing their assessment, as well as how to identify and engage the diverse communities they serve.
Presented in an interview format moderated by Mr. Huber, the webinars feature the Pitt Public Health expertise of Steven Albert, Ph.D., professor and chair; Jessica Burke, Ph.D., assistant professor; Donna Doebler, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor; and Beth Nolan, Ph.D., assistant professor, all of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, and Edmund Ricci, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Evaluation Science in Public Health.
To view the public health webinars and learn more about how public health expertise can enhance the recommended model, visit