Hackensack Meridian Health, JFK Health officially combine in merger of two IT standouts

Both New Jersey health systems are winners of Healthcare IT News' 2017 Best Hospital IT Departments.
By Beth Jones Sanborn
01:56 PM
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Hackensack Meridian JFK Health merger

The just-closed merger between healthcare giant Hackensack Meridian Health and JFK Health does more than combine two New Jersey systems, it actually brings together two powerhouse IT teams.

JFK Health includes the 499-bed JFK Medical Center in Edison, as well as inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities and other services like JFK's Neuroscience Institute, which offers advanced treatment for adult and pediatric neurological conditions.

[Also: How post-merger Hackensack Meridian made one IT team out of many]

The JFK Medical Center will become Hackensack's 16th hospital, an acute care facility that spans both Bergen and Ocean counties. Its other two academic medical centers are Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack and Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

Both New Jersey health systems are among the 20 winners of this year's Best Hospital IT Departments feature: Hackensack Meridian in the "Super" size category and JFK in the "Medium" division.

[Also: JFK Health System preps for big changes, growth ahead of move to Epic]

Hackensack-Meridian itself was created out of a merger,  the July 2016 mega-deal uniting Hackensack University Health Network and Neptune-based Meridian Health.

In its profile this year, Joseph Mannion, MD, Hackensack Meridian's CIO, noted that since that merger the Hackensack Meridian IT team exists in "essentially three different locations." This past summer, those 400-plus employees gathered on a Jersey Shore beach: "It was a great time – some people hadn't even met face-to-face yet," he said. "There's essentially a good 65 miles between the furthest northern office and furthest southern office."

Now, with the addition of JFK, the health system adds another 75 staffers in IT and will continue its move away from its best-of-breed environment (McKesson, GE, etc.) and toward the Epic platform onto which Hackensack Meridian is consolidating. 
Culture is critical in situations such as those, said JFK's CIO Indranil "Neal" Ganguly, told Healthcare IT News.

"At JFK, we have worked hard to create a culture of open communication that has ensured that our teams are all working towards a clear and common goal," he said. "Our IT team is proud about the value they deliver to the health system and I think that gives everyone a great sense of purpose."

In addition to the merger, Hackensack also just announced a $12 million investment to expand the cardiac catheterization lab at JFK Medical Center. The project will add a treatment suite that will consolidate non-invasive cardiac diagnostic services like echocardiograms, EKG and vascular studies into one location, Hackensack said in a statement.

The system's said that merging makes them the biggest system in New Jersey, outgrowing Robert Wood Johnson University Health and Barnabas Health, which merged into RWJ Barnabas in 2016.

Hackensack and JFK first announced the deal last November. Then in May, the plans were confirmed pending regulatory approval.

With the addition of JFK, Hackensack Meridian Health now employs nearly 33,000 team members, 6,500 staff physicians and 4,520 beds. In total, the network now boasts more than 160 patient care locations that also include ambulatory surgery centers, home care, long-term care, assisted living facilities and other sites.

The newly-expanded network also touts two children's hospitals: Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital in Hackensack and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, as well as nine community hospitals: Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood. Two rehabilitation hospitals, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison, and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick, also help make up the network.

Best hospital IT departments: 2017

Meet the winners and find out their winning formula.

Click here to learn more about how we chose this year's winners.

Healthcare IT News Editor Mike Miliard contributed to this report. 

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sanborn@himssmedia.com