Healthcare Executives' Responsibility to Their Communities
November 1997 (revised)
November 2000 (revised)
November 2003 (reaffirmed)
November 2006 (revised)
November 2009 (revised)
November 2011 (revised)
Statement of the Issue
The healthcare executive’s responsibility to the community is multifaceted. It encompasses a commitment to increasing access to needed care, improving community health status and addressing the societal issues that contribute to poor health and health disparities as well as personally working for the betterment of the community at large. Taking a leadership role in serving the community is the responsibility of all healthcare executives regardless of occupational setting or ownership structure. When providers, individuals and communities work toward common goals, the results can be significant: healthier children, healthier adults, reduced healthcare costs, appropriate use of limited healthcare resources and, ultimately, a healthier community.
The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) believes that all healthcare executives have a professional obligation to serve their communities through support of organizational initiatives and personal involvement in community and civic affairs. In addition, ACHE believes that healthcare executives should take a proactive role in individual and community health improvement efforts. ACHE recognizes that communities vary widely in demographic characteristics, resources, traditions and needs. Therefore, each community may identify different priorities and approaches.
Healthcare executives can lead or participate in community and organizational initiatives through the following actions:
- Actively engage in collaborative efforts with public health and other government agencies, businesses, associations, educational groups, religious organizations, elected officials, financing entities, foundations and others to measure and assess the community’s health status, including the most prevalent health problems and concerns, underlying causes, associated risk factors and the diversity of available resources that may be applied to improve the community’s well-being.
- Support efforts to eliminate health disparities for vulnerable populations, including reducing barriers to access; increasing the supply of health workers and other resources in underserved communities; systematically collecting race, ethnicity and language preference data of your patients; and training to help healthcare providers deliver culturally competent care.
- Support the dissemination of accurate information about community health status, the services provided and programs available to prevent and treat illness, and patients’ responsibility for their own health.
- Participate in efforts to communicate organizational effectiveness in matching healthcare resources with community needs, improved clinical outcomes and community health status, and their organization’s volunteerism roles.
- Incorporate community service responsibilities into policies and programs over which they have authority.
- Demonstrate that their commitment to the community is multifaceted and may include support of medical research, training of healthcare professionals, charity care and civic contributions as well as a host of other activities that contribute to the community’s well-being beyond that of their own organization.
- Offer health promotion and illness prevention programs to their employees, positively benefiting staff as well as sending an important message to the community.
Healthcare executives can personally demonstrate their commitment to the community through the following actions:
- Embrace a healthy lifestyle. ACHE members should model behavior they are advocating for their employees and the community at large. Appropriate behavior may include exercising regularly, refraining from smoking, adopting a healthy diet, taking steps to reduce stress and getting preventive checkups to address health problems before they become serious.
- Participate in local assessments of community need.
- Be the catalyst for community-based interventions.
- Participate in regional, state and local task forces to resolve health disparities and other community healthcare problems.
- Actively advocate for the community with the public, policymakers and other key stakeholders to define community healthcare priorities so that healthcare resources can be used equitably and effectively.
- Become involved in community service projects, civic organizations and public dialogue on healthcare policy issues affecting the community.
- Share models of successful healthy community projects with others to enhance efforts in other communities.
ACHE urges all healthcare executives to affirm their responsibility to their communities through their professional actions and personal contributions. To further strengthen its position on community responsibility, ACHE requires its members to produce evidence of participation and leadership in healthcare and community/civic affairs to advance within ACHE.
Approved by the Board of Governors of the American College of Healthcare Executives on November 14, 2011.