Dr Paul Alexander Discusses RWJBarnabas’ Strategies to Identifying, Reducing Health Disparities for Underserved Populations

Paul G. Alexander, MD, MPH, executive vice president and chief health equity and transformation officer, RWJBarnabas Health, spoke on population health management strategies employed by his organization to identify and address health disparities in the communities they serve.

Enhancing our community partnerships with entities engaged in the diverse communities we serve and collaborating on how to best address the social determinants of health prevalent in these geographic areas are some of our strategies to reducing health disparities, said Paul G. Alexander, MD, MPH, executive vice president and chief health equity and transformation officer, RWJBarnabas Health.


Dr Alexander participated in a panel discussion at this year’s Health Equity Summit, in San Diego, California, titled, “Panel: Population Health Management Strategies to Reduce Health Disparities.”


Transcript

At the 2023 Health Equity Summit, you’re participating in a panel discussion on population health management strategies to reduce health disparities. Can you speak on some of the key themes of your session?

The session will explore efforts to increase access to health care and improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations, by enhancing our community partnerships with entities that are engaged in the diverse geographic areas we serve as a health system, particularly focused on groups in need, vulnerable populations, that may need a little bit extra assistance in terms of accessing health care, as well as improving their health outcomes.

As an anchor institution, our health system offers both clinical services, as well as social services consistent with our anchor mission to really improve the health and outcomes for the communities we serve. In doing so, we identify resources in the various communities, working with community-based organizations, religious organizations, health advocacy groups, to identify resources these organizations might have that we can use in collaboration with our resources, such as our community health workers, often placed in the neighborhoods where our most vulnerable members reside. And identify the services that are available so that we can coordinate our efforts to improve outreach to individuals.

So, from a medical perspective, we do look at these determinants of health, those insecurities such as housing insecurity, food insecurity, that influence health outcomes. And once we identify these insecurities, we do elevate our concerns in terms of outreach to the community-based organizations to figure out how best to serve the needs of the patients we're about to see. The importance of that coordination is ultimately to improve health outcomes. And again, access to care is most important if we're going to improve overall health and coordination in terms of how we address these insecurities that patients are living with, whether it be housing insecurity, food insecurity, financial insecurity, that interfere with optimal health—that's the focus that we really tried to address.

I'm interested in hearing what other organizations are doing to address diverse communities. As I said earlier, we have a variety of communities throughout the state of New Jersey, and as an huge organization—I'd like to say we are an anchor organization in the state with over 16 medical centers—we really do look for ways in which we can improve our delivery of our social mission. And so I'd like to hear from other panelists, as well as other participants in this meeting, what are they doing? Is there something that might be an opportunity for us to implement in our health system? Again, as we address the social determinants that impact the patients we serve.

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