Hackensack Meridian Health Launches Program To Connect Patients with Community Resources to Create a Healthier New Jersey

August 12, 2021

Health network’s partnership with NowPow is the largest program of its kind in the U.S. pioneering a more holistic and equitable approach to health.

Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network, has partnered with NowPow, a digital platform to provide patients with personalized referrals to community resources that will help them continue to improve their health after they leave Hackensack Meridian Health’s care. The network is NowPow’s largest program in the nation, with more than 80,000 patients screened and more than 21,000 referrals for assistance within the first few weeks of launch.

“It is essential for health networks to take a holistic approach to their patients’ health and we are proud to partner with NowPow to help address the social needs impacting our communities,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “Our mission is to transform health care and part of this mission is creating innovative ways to bridge health equity gaps and ensure that all patients achieve their best health.”

NowPow’s personalized community referral platform connects patients to local resources in their communities, ranging from food banks, rental assistance, transportation assistance to behavioral health, caregiver and mental health support. Key community organizations are partnering with Hackensack Meridian Health to support their effort including the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and Fulfill Food Bank at the Jersey Shore with the goal of onboarding many more community partners in the near future. The network has a goal of reaching 1.2 million patients in the first year throughout Hackensack Meridian’s 17 hospitals and more than 500 patient care locations.

Increasingly, health care providers understand that they must focus beyond the radar of traditional healthcare to address issues that greatly impact health – housing and food insecurity, transportation issues, substance abuse and other social issues. The goal is to eliminate gaps in health outcomes based on race, ethnicity and socioeconomic factors.

“Hackensack Meridian Health is leading in this new comprehensive — all needs, all people — approach to patient care,” said Rachel Kohler, CEO, NowPow. “Recognizing that one-size does not fit all, Hackensack Meridian Health has established an evidence-based community referral infrastructure that seamlessly meets the unique and ever-changing needs of all patients and care teams. This is key to accelerating the shift to more equitable, value-based care.”

Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 6,100 clinicians trained on the NowPow platform, which is embedded in its electronic medical record, Epic, allowing care teams to readily screen patients for additional health needs and provide the necessary referrals at the point of care. This comprehensive program comes at a critical time as New Jersey continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and health equality is more important than ever.

Hackensack Meridian Health is currently utilizing NowPow’s whole community suite of tools which includes PowRx, NowRx and FindRx to support a wide array of patient needs. All of these tools create personalized referrals to high quality, verified services in more than 100 languages and can be shared by email, print or text message.

NowPow’s PowRx platform, integrated with Epic, the network’s electronic medical record system, allows Hackensack Meridian Health’s care team to refer patients to community resources, connect referrals with the patient’s medical record and receive confirmation once these social services are delivered. To further extend care, including during times of crises and in the community, NowRx provides all Hackensack Meridian Health team members the ability to quickly connect patients and families with community resources without using personally identifiable information. FindRx gives the community access to NowPow’s referral database so they can easily self-serve to find resources they need as well as share referrals with others. Hackensack Meridian Health’s FindRx is available here.

“This partnership with NowPow is a true testament to the work we are doing at Hackensack Meridian Health to advance health equity and help our patients throughout their entire health journey,” said Nicole R. Harris-Hollingsworth, EDD, MCHES, vice president of Social Determinants at Hackensack Meridian Health. “Hackensack Meridian Health and NowPow’s partnership aims to fill any gaps and overcome obstacles our population is facing. We are dedicated to helping our patients live their healthiest lives, whether they are inside our hospitals or living their life outside in our communities.”

Due to COVID-19, New Jersey’s food insecurity rate is projected to rise by 56% – higher than the increases nationally and in neighboring states.

“Our partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health has come at a critical time when our communities are experiencing disproportionate increases in food insecurity,” said Carlos Rodriguez, President & CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. “ We are happy to be a part of this initiative, as we are deeply committed to pursuing a holistic approach to food insecurity that involves workforce development initiatives, nutrition education, and connecting households to critical budgetary resources, in addition to providing food. NowPow is an opportunity to expand on this commitment and to help promote equity and food security across the Garden State.”

Fulfill FoodBank at the Jersey Shore is also in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health to identify patients who are struggling with food insecurity.

“Fulfill’s Hospital Partnership Program started last fall and has been working with local hospitals – including Hackensack Meridian Health – to identify patients who are struggling with food insecurity. Those referrals by hospital professionals have ensured our neighbors in need receive food and social services. The partnership now with NowPow is an extension of that relationship, and we are proud to work together on this initiative at a critical time where the demand for food has increased by 40 percent,” said Lauren Holman, board chair of Fulfill FoodBank at the Jersey Shore. “Families will be fed and receive assistance from Fulfill’s Resource Connections Team with applications for SNAP (food stamps), affordable housing, affordable healthcare, senior services, utilities assistance, and more, with the goal of getting families back on their feet,” added Holman.