Simon Nynens was recently appointed as chief executive officer of the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII). The Institute is an NJIT corporation focused on turning ideas into workable solutions and to help our state innovate. NJII is a member of the Quality Institute’s Leadership Council.
How is NJII assisting patients and health care workers in response to COVID-19?
It’s all hands on deck at NJII. We are really trying to help wherever we can. NJIT is producing facemasks in our Makerspace. We contacted our network of contacts, and a company that never sold to the health care sector is now scaling up to make 50,000 facemasks a day. The company is now delivering these facemasks to our hospitals. We identified several more distributors of PPE gear and ventilators at fair market prices. NJIT is also helping to design and put into practice mobile negative pressure units.
We started a task force to help with COVID-19 research. I also want to mention VentureLink, which helps small businesses, including the small businesses in the health care field.
Can you tell us about the New Jersey Health Information Network (NJHIN) and how it supports care?
We run the infrastructure for the NJHIN, which is owned by the New Jersey Department of Health and is the only information network that enables electronic exchange of patient health information across the entire state of New Jersey and all of its 71 hospitals. We connect hospitals and health care providers of all kinds to the NJHIN. When somebody is admitted into a hospital, it’s really good for the health care team to know their health information. How soon the health care team has that accurate information can really impact the patient’s outcome.
What if you get discharged from the hospital? It’s key that your primary care physician gets a notification so they can follow up with you. If a patient transfers from one hospital to another, that’s also very important. So it will be key that those hospitals, and also the primary care physicians and health care providers of all types, share information in a safe and secure manner. That interoperability is more important now than ever and being leveraged by the New Jersey Department of Health in its response to COVID-19.
Can you tell us what innovations you think will do the most to get people to the right care at the right time and the right setting for an affordable cost?
We at NJII think it’s all about timely, accurate data and the secure and correct use of that data. This goes for the health care providers yet also for medication. Personalized cell and gene medication is the future. Truly personalized medicine could save my life yet could possibly harm or even kill another person. What they look at is your personal cell and genes. How do you use that for patients? It all comes back to timely, accurate data. At NJII’s Bio Pharma Division, we’re all about helping to develop this next wave of medicine.
What are your goals for NJII in driving the transformation of the health care system?
As a New Jersey-based nonprofit service provider, we understand what we can do and what we cannot do. We want to organize, simplify, and focus. I’m a very big believer in focus. We are part of an ecosystem, a vital ecosystem. And I believe that our best contribution is to do outstanding work and deliver true value. We’ve been seen as trusted advisors and we will continue to play that role in partnership with all the health care stakeholders in New Jersey to drive innovation.
Here are some specific examples. Over the last couple of years we’ve brought together small companies, entrepreneurs, students, faculty, inventors and large companies to help fund those interactions. We serve as an anchor for the digital health industry and we’ve actually helped over 200 health care companies grow profitably and increase employment through the coaching services of NJII and the funding of the JP Morgan-funded Health Care IT Connections program. We’re exploring the creation of a digital health cluster that will focus on bringing the Internet of Things to home-based health care. So you could use your mobile phone and, for instance, be able to measure your temperature and send vital statistics to your doctor on a continuous basis.
We always like to ask a question so people get to know a little bit about you beyond your role at NJII. Can you tell us something about yourself? Maybe where we might find you on a day away from the office?
In my backyard, or on the beach or walking in the woods, with my family. I’m also very passionate about how we as business leaders can make a positive change in peoples’ lives, including the environment. We only have one earth and we need to take care of it!