Organizational and Environmental Factors Influencing Hospital Community Orientation

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Abstract

Background:

Community orientation refers to hospitals' efforts to assess and meet the health needs of the local population. Variations in the number of community orientation-related activities offered by hospitals may be attributed to differences in organizational and environmental characteristics. Therefore, hospitals have to strategically respond to these internal and external constraints to improve community health. Understanding the facilitators and barriers of hospital community orientation is important to health care managers facing pressure from the external environment to meet the expectations of the community as well as Affordable Care Act guidelines.

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to examine the organizational and environmental factors that promote or impede hospital community orientation.

Methodology:

A multivariate regression with random effects was conducted using data from the American Hospital Association Annual Survey from 2007 to 2010 and county level data from the Area Health Resource Files.

Findings:

Not-for-profit, system-affiliated, network-affiliated, and larger hospitals have a higher degree of community orientation. In addition, the percentage of the county residents under the age of 65 years with health insurance and hospitals in states with certificate-of-need laws were also positively related to the degree of community orientation. During the study period, it appears that organizational factors mattered more in determining the degree of community orientation.

Practice Implications:

Overall, a better understanding of the factors that influence community orientation can assist hospital administrators and policymakers in stimulating the hospital's role in improving population health and its responsiveness to community health needs. These efforts may occur by building interorganizational relationships or by incentivizing those hospitals that are least likely to be community oriented.

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