Organizations tend to seek to make the most of their workforce healthcare investment. Why? Because reduced costs and improved outcomes generally mean not only healthier and more productive employees, but also a better-performing company. Did you know that enterprises can affect healthcare through things such as purchasing requirements? They can. Read on for more about how your company can influence healthcare.

The Issue

It’s increasingly understood that improving the general health of people in this country will require collaborations that traverse all sectors. However, it’s less understood what role businesses should play in such efforts.

It is true that, more and more, organizations are asked to engage in broad projects or initiatives that help make the U.S., if not the world, a better place. That’s social responsibility. But what if improving health could be tied to corporate performance? 

There’s a Role for Business 

While the nation’s healthcare system is responsible for the heavy lifting, the business sector can play more of a role in multiple determinants of health. We’ve broached how lower costs or better healthcare outcomes generally result in a more robust and productive workforce as well as a more successful organization. 

We’ve already mentioned that healthcare can also be influenced through, say, purchasing requirements. For instance, such requirements can specify what healthcare products should be bought and ensure that providers practice evidence-backed medicine. The overarching idea is to control employee healthcare costs while ensuring service quality.

How Do Businesses Benefit?

Beyond the reduction of healthcare costs, there are other benefits companies can gain from working to improve community health. Those include heightened employee engagement and performance, the ability to attract and retain talent, better manufacturing and service reliability, personal safety, sustainability, and brand reputation.

A big benefit has to do with the connection between a company’s profitability and its workforce’s well being.

What Can Businesses Do?

There are steps businesses can take through healthcare innovation to improve community health. Here are some of them:

Establish objectives. Do so in terms of impact measurements and driving strategic investments. That’s a language business leaders know.

Involve those who are in healthcare and public health. Promote collaboration by working to understand the views and needs of those engaged in improving health and healthcare. 

Educate corporate leaders. One idea is to put together a business-focused primer or “action kit” that can be disseminated at roundtables or conferences, and that addresses more than just healthcare costs.

Promote collaborations with broader community partners. It’s no secret that community partnerships are key, but the “how” is up for grabs. One idea calls for creation of a chartered value exchange to get disparate stakeholders — consumers, employers, public health organizations, and health providers — to discuss how to improve community health.

Make your case. There are enterprises that are already making headway in terms of community health improvement efforts. Many of these organizations have put together case studies outlining their achievements. Share (and learn from) them.

Get grants for your efforts. There’s nothing wrong with getting government or foundation grants for your partnerships with others. You can use these funds to invest in better programs, since as much as a quarter of existing healthcare spending has been found to be ineffective.

Talk up “Triple Aim.” This policy framework that was created by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement supports better patient experiences as well as lower per capita healthcare costs and better community health. Its goals could be of value to business collaborators.

As we’ve shown, your company can likely influence healthcare in more ways than you thought was possible, and that which go beyond social responsibility. Meanwhile, the firm Mercer can help organizations reimagine quality versus cost, then devise a plan that benefits everyone.