A toolkit for a healthier population

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June 11, 2014

Northeastern has received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop a comprehensive user’s guide for population-based health metrics, which can be applied to national payment reform and preventative care efforts. Photo via Thinkstock.

“What leads to healthier people?” asks John Auer­bach, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Prac­tice and director of the Insti­tute of Urban Health Research and Prac­tice in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences. “It’s not just the care they get from doctor,” he says, “but their lifestyle choices and the envi­ron­ment where they live and work.”

These fac­tors, Auer­bach explains, are used to build population-​​based health met­rics. And these met­rics, he says, are essen­tial tools that can be used to treat patients, estab­lish pre­ven­tive care mea­sures, and save big health­care dollars.

“When you create population-​​based met­rics, you’re not just looking at how you treat a patient who’s suf­fered a heart attack,” Auer­bach says. “You’re also mon­i­toring the myriad envi­ron­mental aspects that impact the patient’s health.”

Auer­bach is the prin­cipal inves­ti­gator on a grant North­eastern recently received from the Robert Wood Johnson Foun­da­tion, the nation’s largest phil­an­thropy devoted solely the public health. The grant—which dove­tails with Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to pur­suing use-​​inspired research in health, one of the university’s core research themes—will be used to iden­tify a uni­versal set of population-​​based health met­rics and then inte­grate them into a toolkit. The toolkit will be used by health­care orga­ni­za­tions to imple­ment pay­ment reform and other mea­sures aimed at improving patient care and low­ering costs.