JFK Health System preps for big changes, growth ahead of move to Epic

Merger with Hackensack Meridian Health opens new opportunities for patient care, population health management and information technology.
By Bernie Monegain
06:47 AM
Best Hospital IT department 2017

JFK Health System, a 498-bed acute care hospital in Edison, New Jersey is poised for growth, said the organization's Vice President and CIO Indranil Ganguly, who everyone calls "Neal."

JFK is preparing to merge with Hackensack Meridian Health, a larger health system that itself is the result of a merger (and also happens to be a winner in the "Super" size category of this year’s awards). 

The move will prompt the new combined organization to focus more than ever before on continuing to deliver value to its customers while at the same time integrating and supporting migration to new tools and platforms, said Ganguly, who expects big projects for the IT team as the two entities become one.

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The healthcare organizations announced their plans to merge back in November 2016 and a deal was signed this past May. JFK Health's acute-care hospital and Johnson Rehabilitation System, a nationally recognized rehabilitation hospital will consolidate with Hackensack Meridian, which operates 14 hospitals.

Driving the merger is expansion of patient access and the opportunity to deliver better outcomes by focusing on population health.

Ganguly is expecting a smooth transition – but he is braced for plenty of IT work.

As if consolidating weren't enough, JFK also has a number of system replacement initiatives underway in both clinical and financial areas. The organization is rolling out more mobile solutions, including secure messaging.

The topper: JFK will be moving away from a best-of-breed environment, built around a mix of McKesson, GE, and other vendor products, that had been in place for many years and onto Epic, which Hackensack Meridian is consolidating onto as well. 

Culture is critical in situations like these, said Ganguly. "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. 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."

The IT team at JFK welcomes the opportunity to work on new projects, in fact, and everyone has a strong sense of camaraderie. The group works hard together and also socializes with employee-organized team activities throughout the year.

When it comes to hiring, Ganguly said, JFK uses a team approach to ensure there is a good personality fit in addition to having the right skillset.

"That's worked well for our teams and has resulted in a fairly unified department with a high level of spirit and enthusiasm," he said.

His best advice for other CIOs?

"It is important to set clear goals, communicate frequently, recognize good performance, and reward successes."

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.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com

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