HMH: Community resources program is off to incredibly strong start

Launched with digital platform NowPow on June 28, program already has made more than 21,000 referrals for social service assistance

Hackensack Meridian Health officials said the program in which it joined forces with a digital platform to increase its ability to make personalized referrals to community resources such as food banks has exceeded all expectations.

The program, which was launched June 28 in partnership with Chicago-based NowPow, has screened 80,000 patients and made more than 21,000 referrals for assistance, HMH officials said.

HMH officials said 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.

HMH CEO Bob Garrett said the program is a necessity in today’s health care environment. Health care providers, he said, understand that they must focus beyond the radar of traditional health care 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.

“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,” he said. “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 and transportation assistance to behavioral health, caregiver and mental health support. Hackensack and NowPow are partnering with key community organizations, 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.

NowPow CEO Rachel Kohler said HMH is out front on the initiative.

“Hackensack Meridian Health is leading in this new comprehensive — all needs, all people — approach to patient care,” she said. “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.”

HMH has more than 6,100 clinicians trained on the NowPow platform, which is embedded in its electronic medical record system, 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.

HMH 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, 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.

Nicole Harris-Hollingsworth, vice president of social determinants at HMH, said the program has impact.

“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,” she said. “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.”