Collaboration Brings Corporate and Academic Cultures Together to Achieve Common Goals
When Rutgers University and RWJ Barnabas Health (RWJBH), New Jersey’s largest healthcare system, partnered as part of the New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science (NJ-ACTS) to combine their clinical enterprises and jointly manage research activities, the two entities’ academic and corporate cultures were sometimes at odds with one another.
Attempts to collaborate and merge university and health system practices were often challenging. While intended to help the health system to become more active in academic pursuits, the system’s commitment to research was a relatively new concept. Notably, RWJBH was initially reluctant to share data for competitive reasons, and much effort has gone into addressing privacy and security concerns. These concerns have required development of agreements and approval mechanisms that will enable Rutgers to use the health system’s data for clinical and investigative research.
RWJBH is an organization with 13 different hospitals. Each hospital has its own scientific officer or chief research officer, as well as its own institutional review board. Collecting data from multiple electronic health record systems currently requires contacting each hospital individually while the deployment of a single EHR continues and data sharing agreements are completed.
A New Governance Council for Collaboration
To help overcome the cultural and operational differences, Rutgers and RWJBH set up the Data Governance Council and the Data Acquisition Translation and Action (DATA) Steering Committee, empowered with the authority to operate across both entities’ clinical and research communities. Each committee has broad representation from both participating entities. The Data Governance Council has 12 members, with six appointees each from RWJBH and Rutgers, and is responsible for providing policy and oversight of the research projects that require access to patient data (See below for membership list by institutional role).