An area health initiative helps locals make healthy eating, active living, and other good habits the norm. Keep reading for all the details.
Cincy Chic: Tell us more about Gen-H!
Amy Goetz, Gen-H Communications Coordinator: Gen-H is a community-wide commitment to making health and healthcare a value we share in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. It brings together a unique collaboration of healthcare providers, civic leaders, health plans, employers, community organizations, and individuals committed to improving health and healthcare for all in our region. Its priority areas emphasize healthy eating, active living, healthy coping skills, healthcare delivery improvements, and payment reform.
We are proud to live in a region with beautiful parks, first class arts and entertainment opportunities, and strong economic development. We invest and nurture those assets. Gen-H asks: “Shouldn’t living where people are healthy be something we value and nurture too?” Healthier people, better care, and smarter spending means everybody wins.
Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind Gen-H?
Goetz: Despite having high-quality health systems and providers, and many agencies addressing health issues, the Greater Cincinnati region has disappointing health statistics when nationally ranked. In fact, our region ranks 91 out of 100 large MSAs on the 2015 Gallup Healthways Community Wellbeing Rankings. Only 52% of us rate our health as excellent or very good and almost one in five of us don’t have a regular doctor. This dismal picture looks even worse when gaps attributable to race and income are taken into account.
A deeper look into this disconnect reveals that the people of our region engage in high-risk behaviors at a rate that far exceeds the national average. For example, according to the Community Health Status Survey (CHSS) conducted by Interact for Health, the Greater Cincinnati adult smoking rate in 2013 was 25%, higher than the national rate of 20%. Over 3 in 10 adults (33%) in Greater Cincinnati are obese, more than among adults nationally (28%). Another 3 in 10 local adults (32%) are overweight. This correlates with disappointing data around diet: nearly half (45%) of Greater Cincinnati adults do not meet daily recommendations for either fruit or vegetable intake.
Additionally, Greater Cincinnati has seen an increase over time in the percentage of adults who say they’ve been diagnosed with one of several chronic conditions, including high blood pressure (34%), diabetes (13%), depression (23%), asthma (17%), and chronic lung disease (8%). Many of these conditions are found more frequently among adults with less education or lower income.
Efforts to address these risky behaviors, negative outcomes, and inequities have historically lacked a coordinated response throughout the region with clear priorities and an action plan for change. Gen-H, along with its partners and supporters, is determined to change that.
Cincy Chic: Who’s behind this initiative?
Goetz: In 2014, a group of health stakeholders came together to develop and commit to a regional health improvement plan using the Collective Impact approach to large-scale social change. The model requires a backbone organization with defined responsibilities to guide and support the process, and in our community The Health Collaborative has agreed to fill this role. The backbone function and health improvement effort writ large are now known as Gen-H, or Generation Health. Other stakeholders helping to guide the process include representatives from all five major area adult health systems and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; several large health plans; public health, philanthropic, and social service agencies; business development thought leaders; government/public offices; and consumers and consumer advocates.
Cincy Chic: When did Gen-H officially launch?
Goetz: The initial planning and structuring phase for Gen-H began in early 2014, and by summer a steering committee had formed and were holding monthly meetings. Two leadership forum events were held in the autumn of that year to invite a larger group of community leaders and decision-makers into the conversation. That larger group, using a health dynamics predictive modeling tool informed by public health data, came to a set of recommendations about the priority areas and data sets that would inform the Gen-H approach. Action teams formed around each priority area, and their research and inexhaustible efforts led to the development and eventual kickoff of the community health improvement agenda now known as Gen-H in April of 2016.
Cincy Chic: What makes Gen-H unique?
Goetz: As mentioned above, Gen-H is exceptional in that it encompasses the demographic and geographic diversity of the 7-county region it serves: Hamilton, Clermont, Butler, and Warren in Ohio; and Boone, Campbell, and Kenton in Northern Kentucky. Its decision-making process includes local government, those who provide care, those who pay for care, those who receive care, and those who help to fill the gaps. Many of these sectors have traditionally been siloed and often have been in direct opposition to – or competition with – one another, so their cooperation in this endeavor is truly unique. The wide variety of perspectives and expertise lends credibility, neutrality, and integrity to the process.
Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for Gen-H?
Goetz: Gen-H itself is a relatively new initiative, so it’s fair to say that everything we’re currently doing and planning is new! Next steps in the works for creating a “health in all things” mindset for our region include:
We are learning and sharing best practices for how to remove the barriers to good health in vulnerable communities.
We are currently developing a digital public health dashboard to measure and monitor progress. We are always exploring ways to better integrate the care delivery system with community services that can address the social issues that contribute to poor health. More and more employers are bringing wellness programs to their workers. We hope to leverage that momentum so that good habits are reinforced where we work.
Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more?
Goetz: Visitors to the site can find information and ideas, and share their own Gen-H story and photos at genh.healthcollab.org. News and opportunities around healthy eating, active living, and “Gen-H Spotlight” posts highlighting the Gen-H aligned activities of our partners and friends can be found on the blog. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. For more information on Gen-H, email Gen-H Director Laura Randall at firstname.lastname@example.org.