The CFO Alliance Blog

How Data Can Drive Employer Engagement in Community Health

The CFO Alliance recently convened a focus group consisting of CFOs and Human Resource executives to assess findings from and provide feedback on a research project, “A Data-Driven Approach to Employer Engagement in Community Health,” funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The project is a collaboration among several partners: the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health (GPBCH), Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), Arthur J. Gallagher, Jefferson College of Population Health and The CFO Alliance. A wealth of literature discusses the economic consequences of poor health, and the association among community health, the built environment, and individual health. Little research has been conducted to directly examine the impact of poor community health on employers.

The aim of this project is to analyze a multi-employer medical claims database to raise awareness about employed populations living in less healthy communities, and to determine the impact of community health on employee service utilization and the cost implications to the employer. This information may provide an effective framework for businesses to consider investing in community health improvement and may also have a positive impact on improving workforce health and productivity.

The project findings showed an association between higher use of the Emergency Department and zip codes with poorer health. The group discussed this, raised other questions about the study and provided suggestions for additional data analysis relative to additional provider access and health status indicators. The finance leaders and HR executives in attendance were grateful this type of study was conducted to raise awareness about employees living in less healthy communities. They are eager to see more studies being performed related to this topic. Takeaway actions for consideration by employers include:

  1. Working with health plan advisors to conduct an analysis for their organizations to identify key geographies for focus
  2. Identifying types of financial, educational and other resources available for employers and their employees to support community health improvement
  3. Engaging with non-profits and government agencies to partner on these issues
  4. Raising these issues with elected officials and local economic development offices to gain support

More details will be available when project findings are published later this year.   In the meantime, let me pose a question for CFO Alliance Members to consider:  In your opinion as a finance leader, what are some impactful ways that employers can promote awareness of poor community health and work together to foster improvement?  We’d love to hear from you!  Email Steve Lezynski your thoughts at


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