Joseph W. Devine, FACHE, Chief Experience Officer of Jefferson Health New Jersey, at the Quarterly South Jersey Business Outlook last month.

Devine Grades Healthcare Sector with a “B”

Expansion Must be Balanced with Reimbursement

The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey stages a very successful, well-attended quarterly South Jersey Business Outlook where panelists from different industries grade the economy today and also provide their six-month forecasts.

Representing the consumer healthcare industry on the panel in June was Joseph W. Devine, FACHE, who is President and Chief Experience Officer of Jefferson Health New Jersey and Chairman of the Boards of the New Jersey Hospital Association and the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, where I’m a fellow Board member.

In spite of never before seen revenue growth and expansion, Devine gave the healthcare industry a B grade for both now and his six-month forecast.  That’s because of “uncertainty,” Devine said.  “We have to balance investment and (government) reimbursement.”  Government reimbursement rates are forever changing and unpredictable.  Still, healthcare expansion in New Jersey is robust and gaining strength.

Five hundred million dollars in taxes contributed to the State of New Jersey.  More than $565 million in free care to state citizens.  More than 120,000 full time hospital employees.  These are some of the statewide economic impact statistics Devine provided.

Investment in South Jersey Healthcare is Staggering

Closer to home and specific to Southern New Jersey, Devine said Inspira Health Network is spending $356 million building its new hospital near Rowan University in Mullica Hill, Gloucester County and that Jefferson Health is spending more than $450 million on expanding its campuses in Cherry Hill and Washington Township, Camden County.

Devine called the amount of new investment “staggering.”  And all the major players are also buying new electronic health record (EHR) platforms, if they don’t already have them, including Jefferson Health New Jersey, which spent $115 million on a “Cadillac” EHR, which goes live in September.  “This is what consumers expect,” Devine said.  “You have to have it (an EHR.)”

Globally, venture capitalists have invested more than $9 billion in digital healthcare and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has acquired more than 60 healthcare companies in recent years, Devine continued.  And speaking of healthcare tech, Jefferson is driving innovation by partnering with five different startup companies in Silicon Valley.

So, what does this all mean for a local, independent healthcare communications consultancy?  After years of supporting both for and nonprofit healthcare companies, two years ago, the expanding, diversifying healthcare sector Devine described is why my agency Simon PR reinvented itself as SPRYTE Communications, a specialist in the healthcare provider space.

While Devine’s optimism was guarded due to government’s unpredictable reimbursement posture, my excitement grew as his remarks continued.  There are so many outstanding healthcare prospects for SPRYTE to pursue in New Jersey.  I’m not ready to give SPRYTE a grade but in a cautiously optimistic way, I believe, we are very well positioned for the healthcare marketplace today and in the future.  -Lisa Simon