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RWJF Funds Population Health, Community Health Outreach Office

The Office will determine best practices for population health and community health outreach.

community health outreach population health

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- NYU Langone’s Department of Population Health will create an Office for Enhancing Hospitals’ Role in Improving Community Health using grant funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The $800,000 grant will help NYU Langone build the Office to support healthcare organizations in prioritizing, implementing, and assessing community outreach projects targeted at addressing the social determinants of health.

The Office will specifically explore how healthcare organizations identify and allocate their resources to build community health and population health partnerships in their regions. NYU Langone plans on tracking trends among successful hospitals and communities, highlighting innovative approaches to community and population health, and convening with champion health systems across the country.

Leaders from the fledgling Office will also disseminate their lessons learned with key hospital and health system stakeholders nationwide and with RWJF leadership.

This new development is a part of NYU Langone’s focus on community and population health, hospital leaders said.

“The Office for Enhancing Hospitals’ Role in Improving Community Health reflects NYU Langone Health’s own culture and aspirations to go beyond the walls of our healthcare system so that we not only treat sickness, but help our patients and community stay well,” co-director Leora Horwitz, MD, associate professor of population health and medicine at NYU Langone and director of its Center for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Science, said in a statement.

RWJF experts explained that hospitals play an extremely important role in supporting the health of their communities. Hospitals are no longer just responsible for addressing acute health needs through clinical intervention, but also for population health and patient and community outreach.

“Hospitals and health systems can and do play a critical role in improving the health and wellbeing of their communities, especially in their ability to address the social and economic factors at the root of health inequities,” said Abbey Cofsky, RWJF director of Healthy Communities.

“We have long recognized hospitals and health systems as key community anchors, partners and leaders in advancing a Culture of Health,” added Anne Weiss, RWJF director of Transforming Health and Health Care Systems.

The Office for Enhancing Hospitals’ Role in Improving Community Health will build on other community health oriented efforts at NYU Langone, including its population health department.

Additionally, the Office will build upon the hospital’s Community Service Plan, which partners with neighborhood services in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and its Family Health Centers. Those federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) serve patients struggling with high healthcare costs.

Healthcare organizations are increasingly turning to community health and patient outreach solutions to drive their mission for value-based care. There are cost benefits to addressing the social determinants of health because caring for patients’ social health ideally prevents them from falling ill in the first place. That prevents expensive clinical interventions that may impact value-based payment models.

Earlier this year, RWJF honored exemplary communities addressing the social determinants of health through expansive population health programs.

Those exemplars engaged all members of their communities, RWJF’s Abbey Cofsky said in a previous interview with PatientEngagementHIT.com. With hospitals as their leaders, these communities have succeeded in overcoming difficult conversations about loaded subjects such as inequality and racial disparities.

Hospitals have been the linchpin of these efforts, Cofsky said, because they are focal points within communities.

“There is a natural leadership role that hospitals and healthcare providers are positioned to play in many communities,” Cofsky asserted.

“Hospitals are very much tied to the fate of their community,” she added. “They are major businesses, employers, and entities that own real estate in the community. Hospitals are really invested also in the health and wellbeing of the community for the sake of their employees and their patients and their potential patients.”

Although hospitals have always served a philanthropic role, the push for more community-oriented projects has come about in the wake of value-based care models. Going forward, healthcare organizations will need strong direction and better guidance on how to successfully implement these partnerships.

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