Bear necessity: Hackensack Meridian’s innovation effort expanding to all 17 hospitals

Bear’s Den, the Hackensack Meridian Health version of “Shark Tank,” is expanding from its current home in the New Jersey Innovation Institute to satellite locations in all of the health system’s 17 hospitals.

Hackensack Meridian CEO Robert Garrett said the move ensures that all 34,000 employees have an opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas.

“Bear’s Den has been a winning strategy for Hackensack Meridian Health by supporting the next breakthroughs in care delivery, and it’s time to include our dedicated team members who know best how to innovate from their valuable frontline experience,” Garrett said.

The state’s largest health system pledged $25 million in a fund to help support innovative ideas.

To-date, that includes a Boston-based company’s in-home health robot, Pillo, and a New York City-based company that uses light technology to disinfect surfaces.

Pillo will soon be part of a study led by Dr. Laurie Jacobs, chair and professor of medicine, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, according to a statement from the health system.

The first new Bear’s Den ribbon-cutting will be held at Riverview Medical Center.

“The study will include about 100 patients who receive care for congestive heart failure from physicians at Hackensack University Medical Center, the network’s flagship hospital,” according to the statement.

“Pillo reminds people to take medication at the appropriate time, dispenses their medications, digitally coordinates prescription refills and connects individuals in their homes with physicians, caregivers and loved ones.”

Bear’s Den is comprised of business and industry experts, including Garrett, who vet proposals from entrepreneurs.

“Innovation is in our DNA at Hackensack Meridian Health,’’ said Dr. Andrew Pecora, president of physician enterprise and chief innovation officer at HMH.

By expanding the innovation development space in all 17 hospitals, all team members will have greater access to the support system for sharing ideas that can help the health system.

A series of ribbon-cuttings will be held this month and in April at most of the hospitals.

The first will be March 15 at Riverview Medical Center.