ROI Influencers: Health Care 2019 — The Top 10

1: Robert Garrett
Hackensack Meridian Health

The annual list of accomplishments continues to impress. The merger with Carrier Clinic is leading to new ways to treat behavioral health. The opening of the Center for Discovery and Innovation, which was developed as an applied research enterprise, could rapidly translate into ground-breaking innovations and treatments. There’s the school of medicine, which welcomed its second class and does so with a continued focus on social determinants. And the National Cancer Institute designation it earned in its consortium with other top cancer centers. Want more? HMH’s partnership with New Jersey Institute of Technology and the work through the Bear’s Den (modeled off “Shark Tank”) platform to help boost innovation among employees. Its partnership with Uber — providing rides to appointments to ensure greater compliance with medical care for patients — shows innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. And its presence in places such as Davos, Switzerland and the Vatican have boosted the brand in influential circles globally.

1: Barry Ostrowsky
RWJBarnabas Health

Building on an active year in the strategic partnerships space, the head of RWJBarnabas Health isn’t slowing down. The behemoth health system announced its monumental growth in cancer care and has recently sat down with Rutgers University to move ahead on its $1 billion commitment to a public-private partnership for medical education. Under his leadership, RWJBH has become a leader in community health initiatives, particularly in some of the state’s most underserved communities. Ostrowsky’s commanding presence continues to capture the attention of all those in the health care community, despite his cautious and quiet approach to most actions and events. He sees himself as unique among his peers, because he is uniquely focused on New Jersey in a way that chases health care locally rather than beyond the state’s border. Insiders say he consistently raises issues that are not being discussed. He is far from a group thinker.

Why two No. 1s?

New Jersey has two huge health care systems run by two larger-than-life leaders. So, perhaps it only made sense
there would be two No. 1s in the annual ROI-NJ Influencers: Health Care list.

2: Brian Gragnolati
Atlantic Health System

Gragnolati has enjoyed a particularly high profile this year. As the chair of the American Hospital Association, the hospital system CEO has traveled around the country and been exposed to a number of unique ideas and trends — many of which he can bring back to the state and implement. He has also led the AHA at a time when providers are facing significant pressures from President Donald Trump’s administration, which is pushing forward with transparency requirements for negotiated prices of services negotiated with insurers. Atlantic’s flagship hospital, Morristown Medical Center, was again named the best hospital in the state.

3: George Norcross
Cooper Health System

Norcross’ influence in the state is a known entity in many circles, and health care is no less. The ability to garner state support in all three branches of government, in recent times, to support Cooper’s endeavors have not gone unnoticed. While his cohort is embroiled in a battle with Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration, it hasn’t lessened the influence Norcross wields. He still has the support of those who say the eds and meds corridor in Camden is boosting the city’s economy. And he is a vocal leader in discussing how health care needs to change.

4: Dr. Mark Rosenberg
Dr. Alexis LaPietra
Emergency Medical Department
St. Joseph’s

The duo responsible for the Alternatives to Opioids, or ALTO, program that launched in New Jersey and has taken over the country, including a law waiting to be passed in Congress. Rosenberg has been humble about the success of the program and continues to find new ways to improve on it. He has expanded its use into multiple areas, including dentistry and OB/GYN, and has set the blueprint for providers around the country to follow. Such national impact from an unassuming small hospital system shows how influential — and innovative — New Jersey is on the national scene.

5: Judy Persichelli
New Jersey Department of Health

The former interim CEO of the University Hospital essentially swapped places with Shereef Elnahal to take over as commissioner of health. A registered nurse, Persichelli is well-liked and respected in the industry, although she has flown under the radar for years. Persichelli, who earned nursing degrees from St. Francis University and Rutgers University and a master’s in administration from Rider University, previously served as the interim CEO and president of CHE Trinity Health. Prior to that, she was CEO and president of Catholic Health East and served for eight years as CEO at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton.

6: Gurbir Grewal
Attorney general
State of New Jersey

The state’s AG has had his hands full since Day One. Whether it’s investigating the behavior of providers and insurers in the state, or latching onto lawsuits at the federal level, Grewal’s influence can clearly be seen in the health care space. His office has led the fight against cuts in health care by the Trump administration. A bigger battle is brewing. Going after pharma companies in the “medicine chest of the world” is a strong move. Grewal’s influence, while it comes with the office, is boosted by the respect of his peers and industry insiders.

7: Marlene Caride
Department of Banking and Insurance

Caride has led the state into a stable health care insurance environment, earning her the accolades of her peers. By taking advantage of the federal government’s offerings to support a more stable Affordable Care Act exchange, Caride has allowed New Jersey to be among those that remain in support of the health care law, and able to do so without controversy. In fact, she not only stabilized health insurance premiums for those in the state, in some cases, they actually went down. That puts her and the state in an enviable position nationwide. Caride also has close ties with the Hispanic business community, building a bridge to the fastest-growing community in the state.

8: David Perlin
Chief scientific officer
Center for Discovery and Innovation

Perlin is the inaugural chief scientific officer for HMH’s Center for Discovery and Innovation, which was developed as an applied research enterprise to rapidly translate innovations in science to improve outcomes for patients with cancer and infectious diseases. The center is gathering a dream team of scientists and researchers in an effort to develop industry-changing breakthroughs. Some may come from Perlin himself. He is a national leader in developing molecular insights and technologies to detect, combat and prevent drug-resistant bacterial and fungal infections.

9: Alex Gorsky
Chair and CEO
Johnson & Johnson

The recently announced $20 million settlement with two Ohio counties ended a high-profile opioid lawsuit and did so with J&J not having to admit blame. The company’s liability on the issue — which became clear after a stunning loss in an Oklahoma case — does not figure to be over anytime soon. It’s unclear how much influence J&J had on the nationwide crisis, especially in comparison to now-bankrupt Purdue Pharma — but, as the largest health care company in the world, J&J will certainly be a target for municipalities searching for (financial) help in their efforts to fight the addiction that has come to their communities.

10: Jack Morris
RWJBarnabas Health

Gordon Litwin
Hackensack Meridian Health

While the CEOs of the state’s two mammoth health care organizations share the top spot in this year’s list, it’s easy to show how their bosses — the chairs of both organizations — always have played a key role in the growth of the organizations, as well as their push to innovative. Morris and Litwin are more than just a sounding board, they provide the guidance — and serve as a check — for their organizations’ growth.

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