In a statement Rutgers said that while the two organizations have engaged in collaborative research for over a decade, the work was intermittent.
According to Rutgers, that changed two years ago when Dr. Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS), and Allen Karp, executive vice president for health care management and transformation for Horizon BCBSNJ, recognized the potential of a formal strategic partnership.
“RBHS and Horizon share a common commitment to improving the lives of New Jersey residents and the state’s health care system. Our organizations realized that by combining forces, we could advance medicine, improve care and create better health outcomes for millions of New Jerseyans,” said Strom.
The partners are collaborating on more than 14 projects including research that may bring breakthroughs that make cancer screenings more conclusive; improve the effectiveness of flu vaccinations; adapt to the health consequences of climate change; or deploy virtual reality devices as a pain treatment alternative to opioids.
“By bringing together Rutgers’ remarkable research capabilities and Horizon’s data and clinical expertise, we have created a unique team that is leveraging the strengths of each organization to produce evidence that will improve the quality of health care — not just here in New Jersey, but across the globe,” said Karp.
“Our challenge from the beginning was to create a process and oversight structure that gave Rutgers and Horizon an equal voice in selecting projects and deciding how best to organize the project selection,” said Dr. Strom. “We ultimately decided to create three buckets of projects and to assign experts as chairs and co-chairs from both Rutgers and Horizon. These chairs and co-chairs meet formally during the year and are managing the work streams and timelines for the projects, from conception to conclusion.”
The categories Rutgers and Horizon agreed to pursue include:
- Clinical Collaboration – Studies on how collaboration among different medical professionals can improve care and care interventions in such areas as oncology and behavioral health.
- Research and Policy – Studies on disease states and medical conditions and how medical policies in these areas can be updated and improved.
- Analytics and Integration – Studies on how data sharing can improve health screenings and quality of care.
The co-chairs in each category include top subject matter and policy experts for both organizations. Project topics cover a wide range of health care priorities, such as:
- Proton Beam therapy effectiveness
- Protein therapeutics in advanced lung cancer
- Adverse health outcomes from extreme weather events and climate change
- Cognitive rehabilitation in multiple sclerosis
- Antibiotics and how they interact with seasonal flu vaccines
The research partnership took on even greater significance in 2018, when Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) announced a public-private partnership to jointly operate a world-class academic health system. RWJBH already works closely with Horizon BCBSNJ through the OMNIA Health Alliance, a strategic partnership working to improve health care quality, cost and the customer experience.