Since first opening its doors in 1907, Washington Adventist Hospital has stayed true to its mission of providing whole person care. Today, the hospital has been leading the way in helping to close major healthcare gaps in the Washington, D.C. region through a number of population health initiatives.

“Population health is about putting mechanisms into place that help span transitions of care and better coordinate care to keep our population healthy,” says Chief Medical Officer Randall Wagner, M.D. “It goes beyond treating a patient’s illness to understanding and addressing the many factors that affect an individual’s health outside of the hospital.”

The Brookings Institution recently highlighted the hospital’s innovative population health strategies in its white paper: Hospitals as Hubs to Create Health Communities: Lessons from Washington Adventist Hospital. The case study serves as a call to action for important policy changes needed to encourage more hospitals to prioritize similar initiatives that can help foster healthier communities.

“Overall, as a hospital we have been asked to break down the walls of our organization and become a true community partner that is responsible for the community and population we serve,” Katherine Barmer, Director of Population Health Management for Adventist HealthCare, shared with the Brookings Institution. “We are not only responsible for the medical needs, but are now tasked with identifying and addressing the social determinants of health.”

Here a few ways the hospital is addressing these needs:

Increased Access to Healthcare Providers

What keeps people healthy is their continued contact with a healthcare provider. Even so, about 50 percent of patients don’t make it to a doctor before being readmitted. To address this gap, Washington Adventist Hospital’s case management, transitional care and emergency department staff work together to facilitate the See You in 7 program, which helps patients schedule a post-acute follow-up appointment with their primary care provider within seven days discharge.

Telehealth or Remote Patient Monitoring, is another way the hospital is connecting patients and providers after discharge. For up to 90 days, the program places remote telescales, blood pressure cuffs, glucometers and hub devices in patients’ homes who are suffering from congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes. The telehealth devices evaluate patients’ vital signs and symptoms daily, communicating health information to hospital clinicians in real-time. This allows for close monitoring and early intervention for patients who may be at risk for readmission.

Addressing Social Service Needs

Benefits like affordable health insurance, food stamps, child-care subsidies and tax credits help low-income families achieve long-term employment, financial stability and improved health outcomes. Often patients who are eligible do not know these programs exist. Earlier this year, Washington Adventist Hospital began working with the Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation (SEEDCO) to initiate a cloud-based software application that streamlines access to the benefits enrollment process and improves management efficiency.

The hospital has partnered with Community Clinic Inc. (CCI), the Federally-Qualified Health Center located on its campus, to provide application assistance to patients throughout their hospital stay as well as after discharge.

Partnering with Community Organizations

Washington Adventist Hospital’s partnership with CCI began in 2014 as one of the first on campus collaborations in Maryland between a hospital and a Federally-Qualified Health Center. The clinic links patients with primary care providers and disease management specialists in order to provide needed medical care to high-risk populations.

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Many of the hospital’s community partnerships are managed through the Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity and Wellness, which works to address disease prevention and management and promote health equity in the communities served by Adventist HealthCare. One important way the organization does this is through its network of more than 140 churches and faith communities. The Faith Community Nurses program works with congregations to decrease risk factors that can lead to disease by promoting healthy living and lifestyle changes through classes, screening events, flu shot clinics and other programs that take place at their place of worship.

“We are not just an organization that cares for the sick,” says Terry Forde, President & CEO of Adventist HealthCare, headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD. “We now strive to go beyond healing the sick to helping them make healthy choices and changes in their lives. This changing approach to care reconnects us to our deep Adventist roots.”

Learn how Washington Adventist Hospital is aiming to continue its history of strengthening the region’s healthcare infrastructure and expand access to care for all.