When it comes to a strategy for the future of health care in the state, New Jersey's top health official said it's important to ask these questions: “How can we make it more valued-based, how can we focus more on the patient, on social determinants, and how can we deliver higher quality care at a more sustainable cost?”
Dr. Shereef Elnahal, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, was among a panel of experts from the health care and insurance industries, government and academia that examined the current health care landscape in the state at the 68th Annual Roy A. Bowers Pharmaceutical Conference on Thursday in Piscataway.
Elnahal said it’s important to connect all hospitals in the state to a statewide intranet database to make it easier to transfer information, an initiative he said the Murphy administration is pursuing.
“No matter who’s taking care of you, they’ll have all of your information available to treat you in the right way, the first time,” Elnahal said.
Elnahal said the state’s opioid and medical marijuana programs speak to the successful coordination between payers, hospitals and other stakeholders.
“We are also focusing enrolling people in the Affordable Care Act, a critical bedrock of value to bring people coverage up front so they don’t have to pay out of pocket and you don’t have to have other institutions pay for their care,” he said.
Allen Karp, executive vice president, healthcare management and transformation at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, said that a major objective of his company is to continue to drive affordable quality health care and provide a good experience for its members.
“It takes working together in partnership with providers in the community so we can align incentives to be able to afford the kinds of things that we need to do,” Karp said. “We believe that partnership with providers and with the community will allow us to drive health care costs down and provide quality health care and a better member experience.”
Karp pointed to digital technology as a key component in addressing the future of health care.
“We have implemented in the market an app that will allow members to have telemedicine visits — with care coordinators, a nurse chat on their phone — so that we can direct them to the most effective site of service for the care that they need,” he said. “Some if it can be done through telemedicine chats and some of it can be done if they need care sending them to the right site of service.”
For example, instead of the ER, a patient might be told to go to primary care physician or urgent care center.
“It’s utilizing the technology to give our members some tools to be able to navigate through the health care system,” he said.