Can Hospitals Heal America’s Communities?

“All in for Mission” is the Emerging Model for Impact
Tyler Norris, Vice President of Total Health Partnerships, Kaiser Permanente
Ted Howard, President and co-founder, The Democracy Collaborative

Healthcare’s role in creating healthy communities through increasing access to quality care, research, and grantmaking is being complemented by a higher impact approach; hospitals and integrated health systems are increasingly stepping outside of their walls to address the social, economic, and environmental conditions that contribute to poor health outcomes, shortened lives, and higher costs in the first place.

They are doing so for several reasons: by addressing these social determinants of health through their business and non-clinical practices (for example, through purchasing, hiring, and investments), hospitals and health systems can produce increased measurably beneficial impacts on population and community health. By adopting this “anchor mission,” they can also prevent unnecessary demand on the healthcare system. This in turn can contribute to lower costs and make care more affordable for all, especially those truly in need. Simply put, this approach can improve a health system’s quality and cost effectiveness while simultaneously significantly benefiting society.

With hospitals and health systems representing more than $780 billion in total annual expenditures, $340 billion in purchasing of goods and services, and more than $500 billion in investment portfolios, this approach expands the set of resources and tools institutions have at their disposal to carry out their mission. It shifts the discussion of community benefit from the margins of an institution’s operations to overall accountability, where all resources can be leveraged to benefit the communities in which institutions are located.

Can hospitals and health systems heal America’s communities?

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More resources

More about this toolkit

The partners, sources, team members, advisors, and practitioners behind this project.

Hospitals Building Healthier Communities

In this research report, David Zuckerman of The Democracy Collaborative offers an in-depth exploration of the leading edge of hospitals innovating to build community wealth.

The Anchor Dashboard

The Democracy Collaborative's set of indicators designed to help institutions reflect and assess broadly the long-term impact of their anchor-mission activities—particularly their impact on low-income communities.

EMS Corps: Additional tools and templates

Key documents illustrating the strategies used by EMS Corps to build an inclusive workforce.

Project REACH: Additional tools and templates

Key documents illustrating the strategies used by Johns Hopkins Health System's Project R.E.A.C.H to build an inclusive workforce.

West Philadelphia Skills Initiative: Additional tools and templates

Key documents illustrating the strategies used by West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (University City District) to build an inclusive workforce.

University Hospitals: Additional material

A presentation from University Hospitals of their strategies to build an inclusive workforce.


A network of healthcare leaders formed to champion the business case for investing in frontline workers.

Aspen Workforce Strategies Initiative

Improving access to quality training and employment for low-income adults.

Employer-Assisted Housing Resources

Resources to help design employer-assisted housing programs that can help facilitate building a more inclusive, local workforce.

Atlanta CareerRise: Additional Material

An overview of the Atlanta Beltline Workforce Partnership in Healthcare.