By: Max Crampton- Thomas
2 min read March 2020 — The healthcare industry is poised to revolutionize how it cares for its patients through cutting-edge technology, at a time when a transition toward outpatient services is further consolidating. Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at Jefferson Health Joe Devine discusses with Invest: the priorities for the group amid these new trends.
How does Jefferson Health stand out from other healthcare players in the region?
We have a seamless care system in the region. Our location in South Jersey is less than 17 miles from the main Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. We also provide services in South Jersey that have historically only been provided by Jefferson in Philadelphia, such as Magee Rehabilitation, which recently opened a service at our Cherry Hill hospital. Our technological innovations and telehealth are also sizable differentiators. Jefferson is a truly focused clinical academic medical center that combines teaching and medical care. In New Jersey, we are a teaching hospital for the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as a training location for the Jefferson University Physician Assistant program.
In what ways has technology disrupted the healthcare industry?
Technology is so advanced and outstanding that it works extremely well. For example, we have a neural flow program for patients with mental health issues that helps us with their evaluation. We also have implemented home-monitoring care technology that improves access, and we have succeeded in advancing our linear accelerator when it comes to treating cancer patients, an area that is more precision-driven. The cost of such technology is higher, but we do not transfer that cost to our patients. We are working on ways to inject further efficiencies in the process to continue providing benefits to our patients, including our telehealth program (JeffConnect), 3D mammography, 3D ultrasound, and other advancements like ABUS (Advanced Breast Ultrasound System). These have gone through substantial technological improvements, which are critical in the delivery of care. Technology will continue to be at the forefront of what we do, combined with the important humanistic aspect of providing care. We are also bolstering our smartphone app platforms to improve communication and follow-up processes with our patients. JeffConnect enables patients to receive personalized healthcare through their smartphone or computer.
How is Jefferson Health tackling the local community’s health issues?
Every three years, we are required to undertake a community health needs assessment. What is great about this initiative is that all hospitals in Camden County work with the Departments of Health to shed light on the key health categories in which we should invest. In 2017, for example, it was primarily diabetes. We created a medical school and a district program with a comprehensive diabetes management program for Medicaid recipients, powered by telehealth services and coupled with a robust home care component. It helped improve patients’ health while minimizing their hospital visits. We are looking to continue providing innovative services, while at the same time contributing to building an effective population health model, as healthcare transitions more into outpatient services. As shown from the most recent community health needs assessment, the priority continues to be tackling metabolic diseases. We have a robust diabetes education program, as well as a very successful bariatric surgery program to assist with those needs.
How does Jefferson Health contribute to local efforts to reduce the disparities in care access?
For years, we have had family health centers, which in yesterday’s terminology were called clinics. We have two robust centers, one in Washington Township, Gloucester County, that offer comprehensive internal medicine, pediatrics and OB/GYN services. The other center is located near our Stratford hospital to service the Camden County community. We see a minimum of 20,000 patients a year in those facilities. The purpose of those centers is to serve the underserved.
We also have a partnership in South Jersey with the Food Bank of South Jersey. Any one of our 5,200 employees in New Jersey can participate in some way with the Food Bank. We encourage donations four times a year. It is tied to the health of people we serve.
What are the fastest-growing areas of care and service in the South Jersey region?
End-stage renal disease is more prominent throughout this nation for a lot of different reasons. We started a dialysis program in 1992 to attend to this growing issue with a single, six-bed station. We now have 55 stations. In this market alone, there are more than 200 stations nationwide. It is something we need to address. A close second is the opioid crisis. We do see patients come back multiple times. Unless you have the right post-care model, you cannot treat this illness. Unfortunately, it is growing. Third, is cancer care. This area is becoming increasingly robust with procedures like genetic testing and screening. We are working to put models in place so that when a patient is diagnosed with cancer, we look at the entire family.
What is your outlook for South Jersey’s healthcare sector for 2020?
The sector in New Jersey continues to grow. We have some great hospitals here. Having served as board chair of the New Jersey Hospital Association in 2019, I can attest to these outstanding facilities. By 2025, it is likely we will see the consolidation of close to five healthcare systems across the whole region. We are going to continue to expand and develop a model that provides the ability for patients to have choices and become part of our network. We are working to become the most patient-centric organization in healthcare in the region.
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