Source: NJ Spotlight
Due to its merger with the Meridian Health system of hospitals, Hackensack University Health Network will now become a 13-hospital system from Bergen to Ocean counties and the second largest after RWJ Barnabas Health. The new Hackensack Meridian Health system, as it will be called, employs 28,000 people and continues the growing trend of consolidating hospital groups across the state.
Hackensack Meridian is being led by an unconventional duo of co-CEOs — Robert Garrett, president and CEO of Hackensack University Health Network and John Lloyd, president of Meridian. The two men think the new, more expansive system will revolutionize healthcare in the state.
Garrett said that the merger will result in no layoffs, but will find savings through the more than $250 million in its supply-purchasing chain. It will also leave some vacant positions unfilled.
The new system will encompass not just emergency-care hospitals but teaching facilities, nursing homes, assisted-living accommodations, and outpatient offices.
In 2010, the ACA went into effect seeking to fundamentally alter the healthcare process and insure all U.S. citizens. Under the new rules, quality of service is emphasized. Hospitals are rewarded for improving patients’ health and reducing readmissions, while they can be punished for repeat hospitalizations within 30 days.
The main issue becomes preventing the “silo effect” in which a patient’s physicians might not be aware of treatments issued by other specialists. Garrett said with improved IT communication efforts, the entire system will be connected and better able to serve patients by carrying their history from doctor to doctor across the network.
However, experts are still uncertain what the results will be.
“I don’t have a knee-jerk reaction,” said Renee Steinhagen, an attorney at New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center. “It’s not necessarily bad and not necessarily good but I lean more towards thinking it’s good. They’re taking an innovative step away from fee-for-service pricing and moving towards more community hospitals.”
Hackensack, which originally included four hospitals and a new private medical school in partnership with Seton Hall University, brought a strong academic edge while Meridian’s robust ambulatory services and experience as an integrated network filled in the blanks. Together the system stretches across most of the state and increases Meridian’s already substantial reach.
Some argue, however, that more mergers lead to monopolies that can force higher prices for insurers, which eventually trickle down to the consumer. Garrett said he doesn’t see this happening for Hackensack Meridian. He said costs will remain the same for patients.