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NJAFP Unites Health Care Stakeholders for One-Day Planning Conference

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On April 27, 2012, physicians, nurses, healthcare coalitions, academicians, purchasers of healthcare, government leaders and policy makers put aside their biases and convened in Trenton to brainstorm solutions to New Jersey's fragmented and dysfunctional health care system.  Organized by the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians (NJAFP), Collaborating for the Healthcare of New Jersey- Connecting the Silos - A One-Day Think Tank, attracted a broad spectrum of New Jersey healthcare leaders and included almost 100 participants. The "invitation only" event was supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, New Jersey Business & Industry Association, Medical Society of New Jersey, New Jersey Association of Osteopathic Physicians, Horizon Healthcare Innovations and Rutgers Center for State Health Policy.

Getting Started

David Nace, MD, chair of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative opened the conference with the keynote address focusing on how a patient-focused approach to healthcare could be achieved through the concept of a Patient Centered Medical Home - a model for the improved delivery of primary care by putting patients' needs at the forefront, while simultaneously reducing the cost of care delivery. Laura K. Landy, President of the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation, discussed the current status of New Jersey healthcare and the need to make it more efficient.

Following her presentation, a panel made up of health care providers, insurers and employers debated what they felt was needed to ensure innovative health care delivery in New Jersey.

These morning presentations set the tone for the afternoon work group sessions. 

An Afternoon of Digging Deep

After lunch, conference participants were assigned to subject matter-specific work group organized around the topics of healthcare access, healthcare cost and affordability, healthcare quality, healthcare workforce and health information technology. According to NJAFP Board member and Planning Committee Chair Terry Shlimbaum, MD, "Many of us have served on state task forces and commissions together. This session provided an opportunity to further what we had previously worked on, add new ideas, and continue the dialogue on policy initiatives to improve the delivery of health care in New Jersey." Work groups discussed: the current status of the state's healthcare system, the components of an ideal healthcare system, barriers to creating an ideal system and strategies for overcoming the barriers.

"I am amazed at the level of participation and thrilled at the energy each of the participants put forth. We were able to look at the existing system and start to figure out how an ideal system should look," stressed Shlimbaum.

The Outcome

Each work group met for two hours to brainstorm strategies for improving their respective aspect of the healthcare system.  While each group had its own particular focus, a crossover of topics was evident as presenters illustrated how access to better data ensured higher quality patient care; or how a more thorough assessment of community needs could ensure that the workforce is trained to address these needs.

Next Steps

Thanks to a grant from the Robert Wood Johnston Foundation, key recommendations from the conference were documented and will be shared in a White Paper in the months ahead.

According to Shlimbaun, the One-Day Think Tank "was important to lay the foundation for continued dialogue toward the improvement of our healthcare delivery system in New Jersey.  This is the first step. Given the varied backgrounds and accomplishments of participants, we are pleased to have successfully identified a focus."