How HCIF is Celebrating Community Health Improvement Week June 2-8, 2019

June 4, 2019

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) is celebrating Community Health Improvement Week from June 2nd through June 8th along with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Association for Community Health Improvement. This national event recognizes the critical role played by hospitals, health systems, and communities in improving health and well-being. Community Health Improvement Week aims to inspire hospitals to both acknowledge and share the ways in which they are contributing to patient and community health advancement.

To help with the development of community and population health measures, the AHA has released a digital toolkit, a compilation of such resources as blogs, webinars, podcasts, graphics, and guides.

HCIF supports advancements in community health through several population health projects, including Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health (COACH), a regional collaborative Community Health Needs Assessment, and health literacy initiatives.

  • COACH brings local nonprofit health systems together alongside community-based partners to address social determinants of health. To date, this collaborative has focused on addressing food insecurity by screening patients and referring them to community-based resources that provide services such as direct food assistance, benefits connection, and nutrition education.
  • This year, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and HCIF led local nonprofit hospitals in a collaborative Community Health Needs Assessment process for the first time. The collaborative process reduces participation burden for local communities and lays groundwork for coordinated efforts to address priority needs that emerge from the assessment.
  • HCIF’s health literacy initiatives focus on improving patient-provider communication to achieve better health. While these initiatives seek to address health literacy challenges broadly, specific attention is paid to seniors, immigrants, and refugees through partnerships with community organizations that serve those groups.

Click here to learn more about HCIF’s population and community health initiatives.

Join us in Harrisburg on May 14 & 15 for the 2019 Pennsylvania Health Literacy Coalition Meeting!

Multiple trainings are available, and participants may selectively attend the training(s) of interest to them. All events and trainings listed below will be held at the Crowne Plaza Harrisburg-Hershey, 23 South Second Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101. Click the links below to register.

Download a printable flyer to share with colleagues

Communicating to Connect | Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 10:00am – 12:30pm

Drawing from the the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation’s Health Literacy Train-the-Trainer program, this training program provides an overview of health literacy and its impact on health outcomes, plus tips for patient interaction and communication through plain language and teach back. This content has previously been offered as the first section of a full-day provider training.

Materials Design and Review | Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 1:30pm – 4:30pm

Learn best practices for integrating health literacy into the design and review of written resources, and practice your skills on existing patient education materials.

Tools for Establishing a Culture of Health Literate Care | Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 1:30pm – 3:30pm

From organizational assessment to implementation, this session introduces a set of resources for integrating the Ten Attributes of a Health Literate Organization into your institution.

2019 Pennsylvania Health Literacy Coalition Meeting | Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 8:30am – 12:00pm

Join health literacy champions across the Commonwealth at our fifth annual gathering, featuring a keynote address from Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, Strategic Partner – Health Literacy, Institute for Healthcare Advancement.

Principles of Motivational Interviewing | Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 1:00pm-4:00pm

Participants will learn the foundational principles behind using motivational interviewing (MI) to communicate with clients/patients and practice using techniques and skills of MI.

Advancing Language Access and Working with Interpreters | Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 1:00pm-4:00pm

Learn more about policy requirements for serving populations with limited English proficiency, working effectively with interpreters, and integrating language access into the workplace workflow.

September is Hunger Action Month: See what COACH organizations are doing to ensure food access.

September 17, 2018

An estimated one in four people in Philadelphia experience food insecurity, or an inability to consistently access sufficient nutritious food. September is Hunger Action Month, but anti-hunger organizations in Philadelphia work year-round to ensure our communities have access to the food they need. Many of these local anti-hunger organizations participate in the COACH (Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health) initiative. COACH is a collaborative sponsored by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and facilitated by the Health Care Improvement Foundation. Visit the websites of these COACH partners to learn more about their work or to get involved locally:

Hospitals and health systems who are members of COACH have also taken up the mantle to combat food insecurity. Health systems screen patients for food insecurity and refer those in need to food resources as part of the collaborative’s Healthy Food Access Pilot. But efforts to ensure food access go beyond clinical screening and intervention efforts. Many health systems have established in-house programming to help patients and communities access nutritious food, such as community gardens, on-site farmer’s markets, food pantries, and nutrition education classes. These programs are often the product of robust partnerships between health systems and community-based anti-hunger organizations. Some examples of these programs are shown in the infographic below, but this list isn’t comprehensive: it provides just a glimpse into the work that COACH partners undertake, together, to ensure food access for the communities they serve.

Click to view infographic

Health Literacy Work Supports Advanced Training Opportunities for Providers

With support from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, HCIF promotes regional and statewide health literacy initiatives across multiple sectors. One aim of this work is to offer opportunities for health care professionals to build capacity in addressing the health literacy needs of patients and families. Last week, professionals from multiple health systems in the Philadelphia area who partner with HCIF had the opportunity to attend an advanced training course, hosted at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals and taught by TJU Center for Urban Health faculty. This course, which also provided Continuing Nursing Education credit, focused on incorporating principles of motivational interviewing into patient care to encourage positive behavior change.

Attendees gained an understanding of the theoretical framework behind motivational interviewing, learned key tenets underlying this interaction style, and practiced applying principles in role-play sessions. Motivational interviewing’s core principles of empathy and of collaboration between patients and providers underscore key components of broader health literacy practices, such as bi-directional communication and making health information accessible for all. Together with our health literacy partners, HCIF looks forward to coordinating additional training opportunities in the future.

Health Literacy is a Win-Win for Health Systems and Patients

The Pennsylvania Health Literacy Coalition recently hosted a two-day provider training and meeting in Lancaster, PA, which was attended by Coalition members from across the state. The first day, lead by faculty of Thomas Jefferson University, featured a “train-the-trainer” model for health care professionals. This session demonstrated the importance of health literacy as an important predictor of health outcomes, and offered strategies for improving written and verbal communication with patients.

The second day opened with a presentation by keynote speaker Christopher Trudeau, JD, an Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the University of Arkansas, Little Rock Bowen School of Law. Professor Trudeau discussed best practices for designing a health literate informed consent process, and stressed how health literacy represents a “win-win” for both health care systems and patients. Through guiding principles of health literacy, health care systems can more effectively manage risk, and patients can better understand and act on health information.

The day also featured presentations from Pennsylvania-based groups on designing health literate materials and integrating best practices of health literacy into staff training materials at health care organizations. In the afternoon, representatives from a hospital setting (the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) and a social enterprise organization (Global Wordsmiths) discussed the importance of ensuring high quality language access to patients with limited English proficiency. These panelists offered complementary examples of successful language access service models.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Health Literacy Coalition, please email