Turning great ideas into healthier communities


Advancing the Health of Communities and Populations: A Vital Direction for Health and Health Care

2016 | National Academy of Medicine’s Vital Directions for Health and Health Care Initiative

We have a long way to go to strengthen the public health system to provide adequate protection for communities. Dollar for dollar our health care expenditures fail to provide us with good health at the most basic level as measured by life expectancy and infant mortality. 

But the United States also has great opportunities to advance the health and well-being of communities and populations at large and to make progress both in saving lives and in reducing the cost of health care. 

Read the discussion paper.

This paper identifies a number of approaches for moving forward; at the core of all of them is the need to marshal and align forces across sectors and communities toward disease prevention. Achieving the highest possible level of health in communities and populations requires a rebalancing of our overall investment in ways that enhance disease prevention and wellness strategies throughout the lifespan and builds the strength and resilience of communities.

Authored by leading public health experts, including PHI's Carmen Nevarez, this publication explores major opportunities to improve population health that lie outside the current healthcare system—or require fundamental changes in how the system operates. Read the full document.

This publication is part of the National Academy of Medicine’s Vital Directions for Health and Health Care Initiative, which commissioned expert papers on 19 priority focus areas for U.S. health policy by more than 100 leading researchers, scientists, and policy makers from across the United States. The views presented in this publication and others in the series are those of the authors and do not represent formal consensus positions of the NAM, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, or the authors’ organizations.


Lynn Goldman, Georges Benjamin, Sandra Hernández, David Kindig, Shiriki Kumanyika, Carmen Nevarez, Nirav R. Shah, and Winston Wong

PHI Author, Carmen Nevarez

Produced through PHI's:

Center for Health Leadership and Practice