At Hackensack University Health Network, we aspire to provide the highest standards of comprehensive healthcare to the citizens of New Jersey. This means developing the full continuum of care: care that encompasses wellness and preventive services, as well as the most advanced medical procedures. To deliver this care efficiently, we must also reinforce and expand the healthcare infrastructure in our state. This year, we focused on both of these areas, acting strategically to tackle challenges in healthcare when it matters most.
At the same time, we recognize that building a comprehensive continuum of care, providing care in a coordinated way, and developing the physical and organizational infrastructure needed to deliver this care is a large undertaking that is beyond the scope of any individual institution. That is why we place such an important emphasis on partnerships—with other health systems, hospitals, universities and healthcare organizations.
The partnerships we made this year—most notably with Meridian Health and Seton Hall University—are transformative, both for HackensackUHN and, we believe, for the citizens of New Jersey. As the challenges in healthcare grow and become more complex, these partnerships will give us the resources and the capability to better serve our patients and their communities.
The future of medical care depends as much on having an ample supply of talented, idealistic physicians entering the profession as it does on the introduction of new medications and treatments. At the moment, however, the nation faces a critical shortage of physicians. This shortage is expected to reach 2,500 by 2020 in New Jersey alone.
HackensackUHN took steps this year to address this gap. We signed a definitive agreement with Seton Hall University to form a new, four-year school of medicine. The school will be located on the former campus of Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc., a state-of-the-art biomedical facility straddling Nutley and Clifton.
Seton Hall will relocate its College of Nursing as well as its School of Health and Medical Sciences, which spans everything from occupational therapy to healthcare administration, to the new health sciences campus. This will create an opportunity to bring all the disciplines required to deliver high-quality care into a single classroom, an approach that mirrors the collaborative nature of 21st-century healthcare.
The new school of medicine will also have facilities that support HackensackUHN’s flourishing research partnership with Georgetown University. Laboratories on the campus will set the stage for expanding this partnership, and the research enterprise they support will be a powerful attraction for highly-motivated students who envision a career that encompasses both research and clinical practice.
Our goal is not simply to establish the only private school of medicine in New Jersey, but also to transform HackensackUHN into a nationally-competitive, comprehensive health sciences center. In the process, we expect our efforts to produce a significant economic boost to the region, thanks to the talent we attract and the intellectual property we generate.
Four years ago, our Board of Trustees took the measure of the healthcare landscape and the evolving challenges facing medical centers like our own. They determined it would require an organization of at least $3 billion in size to marshal the resources needed to provide high-quality, comprehensive care while operating competitively.
This year, HackensackUHN took bold action to meet this goal. After a seven-month due diligence period, we signed a definitive agreement to merge with Meridian Health. In the course of our due diligence, we found that a merged organization would provide a wealth of synergies for advancing care. Equally important, we found that we shared a common culture and a commitment to excellence. We expect to receive state and federal regulatory clearance for this merger in 2016.
With 12 hospitals, including two children’s hospitals, in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties, Hackensack Meridian Health will truly elevate the level of healthcare available to many New Jersey residents. The new entity will employ more than 23,000 people and generate more than $3.4 billion in revenues, making it the largest healthcare system in New Jersey.
Hackensack Meridian Health will be able to offer the full continuum of care from hundreds of locations across the state, positioning it to effectively address the health of entire populations. With a common medical information system, physicians will be able to readily coordinate efforts to keep patients healthier and out of the hospital. Hackensack Meridian Health will also benefit from economies of scale across a broad geography, thereby freeing resources to better serve its charitable core mission to the community, especially for those without the ability to pay.
Local hospitals are the mainstay of community healthcare, but their size puts them at a disadvantage in today’s environment. For many, responding to such mandates as population health, value-based reimbursement and ICD-10 coding while delivering state- of-the-art care is an outsized and, in some cases, an impossible burden.
This year, we entered into a clinical and academic affiliation with Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. Under the agreement, HackensackUHN and Englewood will remain independent healthcare providers and will continue to be responsible for their own finances and operations.
The affiliation will enable HackensackUHN and Englewood to collaborate on rolling out a regional population health model that emphasizes preventive medicine, early intervention and difficult-to-access services for multicultural communities. The two institutions will also build a regional cardiac surgery program, projected to be the largest in northern New Jersey. Englewood has also agreed to serve as a major teaching site once the HackensackUHN/Seton Hall University medical school and its graduate medical education programs are underway.
If all goes well, Englewood will ultimately become a member of the HackensackUHN, which will enable it to cost-effectively upgrade its information technology, including its electronic medical record system. Having a common EMR is a prerequisite to more powerful population health.
Ideally, the relationship with Englewood will evolve in much the same way as HackensackUHN’s relationship with the Palisades Medical Center. We formed a clinical affiliation with this hospital in 2012. During the intervening years, we worked together to strengthen its existing programs and bring state-of-the-art diagnostic and medical treatments to its surrounding communities. This culminated in 2015 with the opening of an Ambulatory Care Center at Palisades, with facilities for dialysis, cancer care, endoscopy, cardiology, gastroenterology and orthopedics.
Equally important, this three-year period provided time for the medical staff and physicians at both hospitals to develop a closer working relationship. The result: in early 2016, Palisades Medical Center became a full member of our Network and is now known as HackensackUMC Palisades.
HackensackUHN never wavers in our commitment to help members of our network care for patients in their communities. For instance, HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley recently broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art Emergency Department. The $14 million expansion will double its existing space and provide 26 all-private exam rooms.
Health networks are complex, sophisticated organizations requiring vast amounts of specialist expertise and extensive financial resources to operate successfully. Partnerships provide the option of capitalizing on the expertise that other organizations possess while sharing both the financial risks and benefits.
For instance, alliances with physicians and physicians groups have amplified our ability to deliver seamless, high-quality care to patients throughout northern New Jersey. This year, HackensackUHN moved to extend our ties with the state’s physicians by entering into discussions with Summit Medical Group, the largest and oldest physician-owned multispecialty practice in New Jersey. In addition to its 250,000-square-foot campus in Berkeley Heights, Summit has offices in northern and central New Jersey. One of the goals of the partnership is the construction of a new 50,000-square-foot ambulatory care facility owned by HackensackUHN, but managed by Summit.
Rising costs, fragmented care and the need to emphasize wellness and prevention are concerns of insurance companies as well as health networks. In another important partnership, HackensackUHN this year joined forces with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and some of the best hospitals and physicians to support the OMNIA Health Alliance. The OMNIA Health Alliance will dedicate significant intellectual and financial resources to developing new approaches to keep individuals healthy through population health management and more integrated, coordinated care.
In another partnership with an insurance company, HackensackUHN partnered with Aetna to introduce a new Medicare Advantage plan throughout 10 counties in northern New Jersey. We launched this plan in 2015. Together with two other New Jersey health systems—Atlantic Health System and Hunterdon Healthcare System—HackensackUHN coordinates care to provide high-quality, efficient, convenient and affordable care to New Jersey Medicare beneficiaries.
In addition to promoting innovative models of care, partnerships we formed this year allow us to extend access to care. In 2014, HackensackUHN entered into an agreement with New York-based CityMD to open urgent care centers in northern New Jersey. CityMD currently has more than 50 urgent care centers in the New York metro area, including 23 in New York City. This year, we opened our first locations in Paramus and Clifton, with five additional locations scheduled to welcome patients shortly thereafter.
Meeting the challenges that health networks face today requires a multifaceted strategy and sufficient scale. It also requires a dynamic organization, perpetually moving forward and always ready to reinvent itself. HackensackUHN meets these criteria. This year, we achieved two long-cherished goals—the establishment of our own school of medicine and a merger with a comparable health system—that will transform not only our organization but also the future of healthcare in New Jersey.
It can be fairly said that 2015 marks the start of a new chapter in our history. During the next decade, we believe that Hackensack Meridian health, with its flourishing medical school and expanded reach, will become a beacon for high-quality healthcare, not just in the state, but also across the nation and the world.
This year, we achieved two long-cherished goals—the establishment of our own school of medicine and a merger with a comparable health system—that will transform not only our organization but also the future of healthcare in New Jersey.