Population health? Social determinants? Here’s what they mean to RWJBH head Barry Ostrowsky

File photo Barry Ostrowsky, CEO and president of RWJBarnabas Health.

They are two of the biggest phrases in the health care industry — used by industry leaders on a regular basis.

Finding someone to define “Population health” and “Social determinants” is not as common.

ROI-NJ’s Anjalee Khemlani asked RWJBarnabas Health CEO Barry Ostrowsky to define both terms during a sitdown for our annual Interview Issue.

Here’s what he said:

“I have my own definition of population health,” he said. “Ultimately, if we’re going to be successful in population health, we’re going to have to have the notion that we have custody of you.

“Custody sometimes implies some condescending relationship. You know, you have a child and you have custody of the child. I don’t mean it in that sense. What I mean is we have to have an interest in you as a person and be responsible for your health and your daily set of activities to ensure that you have good health.

“That, to me, is population health. You’re going to manage populations. You’re going to say, ‘It’s my job to know as much as I could possibly know about you,’ and to make sure that, as you conduct your life, I’m able to advise you on how to stay healthy and recover quickly, so that you’ll have a happier and healthier life.”

That life will be impacted by social determinants. Ostrowsky broke that down, too.

“To try to pick an example, if you’re going to live in infested housing with no ventilation and no heat and no air conditioning, the chance of you being healthy is almost zero,” he said. “Now, I don’t care how many times we operate on you or how many visits you make to the emergency room, you keep going back to that shelter, you’re going to be sick.

“So, what is the relative value of having the world’s best MRI versus having good shelter?”

The answer to that question and more can be found in the complete interview. Click here to read it.

The Interview Issue