RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH ) in New Jersey and St. Luke’s University Health Network, based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, are pleased to announce a clinical affiliation.
RWJBH and St. Luke’s have signed a three-year joint, renewable agreement to provide patients primarily in northwest New Jersey greater access to the high-quality clinical services, expertise, experience and resources of both of these two award-winning, nonprofit health care organizations. It is anticipated that in the future, additional areas of cooperation may be identified and pursued, such as clinical trials, medical education and research.
“This agreement introduces innovative new opportunities for supporting local communities,” stated Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer, RWJBarnabas Health. “We are excited to share expertise and resources, to learn from each other and to become more efficient in the delivery of care.”
Rick Anderson, St. Luke’s President and Chief Executive Officer said, “This innovative, forward-thinking collaboration would not have been realized without the leadership, support and encouragement of RWJBarnabas Health President and CEO Barry Ostrowsky and his outstanding leadership team. The RWJBarnabas Health-St. Luke’s partnership is a model for how two health care systems can cooperate for the common good. Working together, both organizations will be stronger, ensuring residents of Warren and Hunterdon counties enjoy greater access close to home to the very best health care.”
The agreement represents neither a merger nor an acquisition, but rather a coordinated effort to promote access to the best and most advanced programs of care provided by the two systems and their physicians – especially for those patients who desire to, or must, have their care provided in New Jersey.
RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest, most comprehensive academic health care system, dedicated to providing access to quality patient care, supporting excellence in medical education and research and operating advanced programs of clinical care and research in New Jersey and beyond. St. Luke’s is one of the top-rated health care systems in northeastern Pennsylvania, operating the state’s oldest nursing school, the Lehigh Valley’s only medical school and hospitals and outpatient locations in 11 counties, including Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.
Patients will benefit from coordinated access, including transfer of patients to RWJBH facilities for RWJBH’s advanced programs of care and tertiary and quaternary services provided by hospitals, physicians and other providers affiliated with RWJBH, such as oncology, pediatrics, cardiology, trauma, behavioral health, neurosurgery, home health and OB/women’s health.
Plans include seeking opportunities for clinical integration such as participation in each other’s clinically integrated networks, access to electronic medical records (when permissible) and creating evidence-based clinical programs.
Also planned is collaboration to provide expanded educational opportunities including education of medical students, recruitment of residents and fellows, co-placement of residents, co-sponsorship of fellowships and collaboration on research opportunities.
Q. What is being announced?
A. RWJBarnabas Health and St. Luke’s University Health Network have signed a Clinical Affiliation Agreement (“Agreement”) that envisions both parties working toward improving access to care and reducing health disparities in the northwest New Jersey area served by both St. Luke’s University Health Network (“St. Luke’s”) and RWJBarnabas Health (“RWJBarnabas”). The first step in preparing to meet this mutual goal will be demonstrated through our clinically integrated care delivered in New Jersey.
Q. What is the definition of clinical integration?
A. Clinical integration is defined as the evidence-based clinical pathways organized, implemented and monitored to assure that all providers follow state-of-the-art clinical protocols. Both St. Luke’s and RWJBarnabas will be applying what they have learned in establishing these types of protocols already in use by both organizations.
Q. What is the duration of the Agreement?
A. The Agreement is effective for three years, unless terminated sooner, and shall automatically renew for additional one-year periods, unless terminated sooner.
Q. Is this a merger or acquisition?
A. This affiliation is neither a merger nor an acquisition. One entity is not buying the other. The Agreement shall not constitute a partnership nor joint venture among the parties. It is an agreement by both organizations to work closely together to improve access to care and reduce health disparities of the communities served by both organizations, while they remain independent.
Q. Will there be a name change?
A. There will not be a name change.
Q. What is St. Luke’s University Health Network?
A. St. Luke’s is one of the largest nonprofit health systems in northeast Pennsylvania. It owns owns and operates a regional network of hospitals, physician practices, health centers and related organizations, providing health care services primarily in Pennsylvania as well as in Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. St. Luke’s provides services to a growing number of residents in 11 counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Q. What is RWJBarnabas Health?
A. RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest, most comprehensive academic health system, dedicated to providing access to quality patient care, supporting excellence in medical education and research and operating advanced programs of clinical care and research in New Jersey and beyond.
Q. How will RWJBarnabas Health’s partnership with Rutgers interact with the St. Luke’s Agreement?
A. RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, are forming New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive academic health system. The partnership aligns RWJBH with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. St. Luke’s and RWJBarnabas & Rutgers Health will identify specialized areas of high-level services not currently as accessible to residents of northwest New Jersey and collaborate on ways to improve access to those levels of care.
Q. How will St. Luke’s Warren Campus and RWJBarnabas Health and their patients benefit from this Agreement?
A. St. Luke’s and RWJBarnabas both want to make available to patients in northwest New Jersey high quality clinical services and to support excellence in medical education and research. Both entities desire to share expertise and experience and, in some cases, resources to improve access to high quality clinical care for residents in and around Warren and Hunterdon counties.
This agreement helps to provide greater opportunity to broaden services and provide service to more people. It also allows future opportunity for development of ambulatory services.
Q. How will access and efficiency improve?
A. By sharing expertise, experience and resources, the entities expect to learn from each other and to reduce unnecessary duplication of services and resources within the targeted counties and to become more efficient in the delivery of care.
By cooperating on the planning and coordination of clinical care, it is expected that other areas of cooperation and collaboration may be identified and pursued such as in the areas of clinical trials and education.
Q. What advanced areas of care will now be available to St. Luke’s Warren Campus?
A. Both entities desire to collaborate so that patients within the St. Luke’s Warren Campus geographic service area may obtain coordinated access including transfer of patients to RWJBH facilities for RWJBarnabas’ advanced programs of care and tertiary and quaternary services provided by hospitals, physicians and/or other providers affiliated with RWJBH such as potentially oncology, OB/women’s health, pediatrics, cardiology, trauma, behavioral health, neurosurgery and home health services.
Q. What additional collaboration is planned?
A. Current plans include seeking opportunities for clinical integration such as participation in each other’s clinically integrated networks, providing access to existing electronic medical records when permissible for treatment of patients and creating evidence-based clinical programs.
Q. How will this agreement affect the cost of medical care for consumers?
A. Both organizations pride themselves on being among the lowest cost providers in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, respectively; this because of their demonstrated ability to operate extremely cost effectively while producing excellent patient outcomes and experiences.
Q. Why is this agreement good for healthcare in New Jersey?
A. Our research and direct feedback from our communities affirms that residents of northwest New Jersey have historically had to travel for care that is more readily available to residents in more densely populated areas of New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley. Our collaboration will allow for the expansion of services and more seamless referral of care to RWJBarnabas care in New Jersey.
Q. How will the collaboration be structured? Will there be a Steering Committee to provide oversight of this collaboration?
A. A Steering Team and Working Teams have been meeting for several months to envision and design the structure to help achieve the mutual goals of both organizations in establishing this strategic affiliation. The parties will soon establish one or more joint working groups to assist with the development and maintenance of clinical academic and research initiatives identified as opportunities by the Steering Team. The Steering Team reports directly to the president and chief executive officer of each party or designee.
Medical Education and Clinical Research
Q. What plans are being made for medical education?
A. The two parties plan to pursue a mutually acceptable collaboration to provide expanded educational opportunities for both parties including education of medical students, recruitment of residents and fellows, co-placement of residents, co-sponsorship of fellowships and collaboration on research opportunities.
Q. How will research studies and clinical trials be expanded with this agreement?
A. The parties plan to pursue mutually acceptable collaboration in seeking and undertaking research and clinical trials through possible co-sponsorship, sharing of resources and consolidated patient pools.
Physicians and Employees
Q. Will RWJBH physicians have privileges at St. Luke’s facilities? Will St. Luke’s physicians have privileges at RWJBH facilities?
A. Initially, the primary care physicians (“PCPs”) based in New Jersey under St. Luke’s Warren Physician Group will, for third-party contracting purposes, become part of RWJBarnabas’ Clinical Integration Network (“CIN”). This will allow “CIN” to bring a broader network of PCPs to the table when wanting to establish relationships with third-party payors and insurance carriers. Where there are opportunities to improve access to specialized and ambulatory care in northwest New Jersey, St. Luke’s and RWJBarnabas will pool their capabilities in the identified services to achieve that goal; thus, providers from both organizations will be considered in developing the actual plan to do so. Staff privileging will be decided based on the specifics of that plan.
Q. Will the employees be integrated?
A. No, the employees of each of the organizations and their respective subsidiaries will remain employees in those organizations.
Q. Will salaries and benefits change for either party?
A. We envision no changes in compensation or benefit plans as each employee will remain employed by their respective organizations.
Q. How much money is RWJBH or St. Luke’s investing in the Agreement?
A. No money is exchanging hands in establishing this strategic affiliation. Should funds be required to establish greater access to higher level services not readily available to residents of northwest New Jersey, the funding from either or both of the organizations will be decided.
Q. Will the two parties create joint marketing?
A. Where indicated joint marketing of services will be considered.
Q. Can the two parties use each other’s logos?
A. Each party shall be permitted to use the other party’s name and logo in conjunction with all promotional activities related to the services to be provided including any web-based or broadcast media, subject in all cases to the prior written consent of the other party.
ABOUT RWJBarnabas Health
RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering nine counties with five million people. The system includes eleven acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, RWJUH in New Brunswick, RWJUH Somerset in Somerville, RWJUH Hamilton, RWJUH Rahway and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston; three acute care children’s hospitals and a leading pediatric rehabilitation hospital with a network of outpatient centers , a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, a medical group, multi-site imaging centers and an accountable care organization.
RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer – with more than 33,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 1,000 residents and interns – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health recently announced a partnership with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey - the state's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center -and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.
About St. Luke’s
Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 15,000 employees providing services at 10 hospitals and over 300 outpatient sites. With annual net revenue greater than $2 billion, the Network’s service area includes 10 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe and Schuylkill counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the Lehigh Valley’s first and only regional medical school campus. It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 28 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 226 residents and fellows. St. Luke’s is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system with Medicare’s five- and four-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. St. Luke’s is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital. In 2019, three of IBM Watson Health’s 100 Top Hospitals were St. Luke’s hospitals. St. Luke’s University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health seven times total and five years in a row. St. Luke’s has also been cited by IBM Watson Health as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Program. Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.