Crikey! Northwell, Aussie counterparts come together

Men and women at work: Jonathan Washko (right), assistant vice president of operations at Northwell Health’s Center for Emergency Medical Services, answers questions from representatives of Australia's Epworth HealthCare.

Some of Northwell Health’s best practices are heading down under.

A unique exchange program between the New Hyde Park-based health system and Australia’s Epworth HealthCare system has brought a team of Aussie clinicians and administrators to Long Island to soak up some Northwell Health style.

Epworth HealthCare is the largest Australian nonprofit health system, with 6,500 employees and 10 hospitals serving Melbourne and other parts of the densely populated State of Victoria. To help it run better, Epworth delegates took notes on how they do things at Northwell Health, New York State’s largest private employer and busiest healthcare provider, with more than 62,000 system-wide staffers servicing 2 million-plus patients annually.

As part of what Northwell Health called an “innovative strategic alliance agreement” between the two healthcare providers, Northwell’s Center for Learning and Innovation hosted six Epworth HealthCare professionals for a two-week stay.

The tour included inside looks at Northwell Health’s Patient Safety Institute – self-billed as one of the nation’s largest “patient simulation centers” – and other parts of the vast Northwell operation, including tours of its Center for Emergency Medical Services and innovative TeleHealth operation, both based in Syosset.

The itinerary also included behind-the-curtains peeks at Northwell Health’s employee-education efforts and pain management, home care, rehabilitation, radiation and oncology programs.

Simon Benedict, Epworth Healthcare’s human resources director, called it “an incredible opportunity” for the Australian emissaries.

“Northwell educated us in many different aspects of healthcare,” Benedict said in a statement. “I know that these learnings will be translated back at Epworth, ultimately improving the care that we provide to our patients.”

While Northwell Health did the hosting this time around, “the experience was truly collaborative,” Benedict added, with the visitors sharing Epworth HealthCare best practices in return.

And the Australian system might not be done showing its American friends how they do things in Oz. A similar exchange – with Northwell Health employees visiting Epworth Healthcare’s nerve centers – could happen later this year or in early 2018, according to Kevin McGeachy, Northwell’s senior vice president of strategic alliances.

“This is the beginning of what may be a deeper collaboration,” McGeachy said. “It was a good first step for us. I hope we can continue to work together, whether that’s on the research side or on clinical programs.”

Some of those clinical efforts have enjoyed a running start. In 2015, the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Northwell Health’s R&D division, announced it had inked a partnership deal with Australian pharmaceuticals giant Novogen focused on the development of new drugs to battle brain cancers.

In 2016, Northwell President and CEO Michael Dowling and then-Epworth CEO Alan Kinkade, after crossing paths at an international healthcare conference, officially signed the strategic affiliation agreement, focused on leadership development, medical education and other care-related concerns – as well as “exploring new business ventures,” according to a Northwell statement.

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