Hackensack Meridian Health Expands Bear’s Den Innovation Hubs to All Network Hospitals

Bear’s Den recently unveiled at Hackensack University Medical Center

Hackensack, NJ – Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most integrated health network, is pleased to announce that it is expanding the successful innovation program, Bear’s Den, to all hospitals to encourage the network’s 34,000 team members to bring forth their best ideas to improve care delivery and enhance patient satisfaction.

“Bear’s Den has been a winning strategy for Hackensack Meridian Health by supporting the next breakthroughs in care delivery and it’s time to include our dedicated team members who know best how to innovate from their valuable frontline experience,’’ said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.

To date, Bear’s Den has supported two major innovations through a $25 million fund: Pillo, a health robot for the home and PurpleSun, the only technology with a 90- second disinfection cycle to eliminate microorganisms to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

The Wall Street Journal called PurpleSun a “Game Changer in Health-Tech’’ and noted that PurpleSun is living up to claims it can partner with large healthcare providers to meet their important needs in the era of value-based care, which rewards hospitals and providers for keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital.

Launched in 2017, Bear’s Den features a panel of experts, including CEO Robert C. Garrett, leading physicians, key network executives, venture capitalists, patent attorneys, who gather regularly to vet proposals from entrepreneurs. The health network’s novel incubator has vetted many products and strategies to streamline care delivery, reduce infections, lower hospital readmissions and help patients partner in their care with physicians.

“Innovation is in our DNA at Hackensack Meridian Health,’’ said Andrew Pecora, M.D., president of Physician Enterprise and chief innovation officer.

Hackensack Meridian Health joined with the New Jersey Innovation Institute, an affiliate of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, bringing together engineers, scientists, health care experts and others to launch innovations to improve health care delivery. Hackensack Meridian created an Innovation Center where aspiring companies present their concepts to the center’s ideation group. Those deemed ready are presented to the “Bear’s Den” group of Hackensack Meridian’s Innovation Center to decide on investment.

By creating designated space in the network’s 17 hospitals, staff members from Bear’s Den will meet team members on site to discuss their ideas. Additionally, entrepreneurs will periodically visit the hospital locations and share their inspiring stories with team members to encourage them to innovate.

Increasingly, healthcare organizations are turning to technology to help achieve the “Triple Aim’’: to improve patient outcomes, enhance the patient experience and reduce costs. While U.S. healthcare spending has grown from five percent of GDP in 1960 to 17 percent in 2016, life expectancy in the U.S. has decreased in the last two years for the first time since the great flu epidemic from 1916 to 1918.

The first company Bear’s Den funded was Boston-based Pillo Health, a leading in-home digital care management company. Pillo leverages voice-first technology and artificial intelligence to connect patients at home with their care teams and family members.

Pillo will soon be part of a study lead by Dr. Laurie Jacobs Chair and Professor of Medicine Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. The study will include about 100 patients who receive care for congestive heart failure from physicians at Hackensack University Medical Center, the network’s flagship hospital. Pillo reminds people to take medication at the appropriate time, dispenses their medications, digitally coordinates prescription refills and connects individuals in their homes with physicians, caregivers and loved ones.

One of Pillo Health’s primary goals is to support improvements in medication compliance. Prescription noncompliance adds a huge financial burden to the U.S. healthcare system, costing billions of dollars per year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospital admission rates increase for non-adherent patients with chronic illness by up to 69 percent, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, PurpleSun utilizes a form of ultraviolet light energy to disinfect care areas. It has been piloted in operating rooms, post-acute care units, intensive care and emergency departments and has reported a 98 percent effectiveness in eliminating microorganisms in those areas, according to recent reports published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Although significant progress has been made in preventing healthcare-associated infections, there is much more work to be done, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Infections. On any given day in the nation, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection, according to the CDC.

About Hackensack Meridian Health

Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care. Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals, including three academic medical centers, two children’s hospitals and nine community hospitals, two rehabilitation hospitals, one behavioral health hospital, nearly 500 patient care sites and physician offices. Hackensack Meridian Health has 34,000 team members, more than 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The Network’s notable distinctions include having one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more consecutive years, four hospitals ranked among the top 10 in New Jersey as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, recipient of the John M. Eisenberg Award for Patient Safety and Quality from The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum, a six-time recipient of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Health Care” in the nation, and the number one “Best Place to Work for Women.” Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

Carrier Clinic has 1,100 team members, is located in Belle Mead, New Jersey, and specializes in psychiatric and addiction treatment. Carrier Clinic includes an inpatient psychiatric hospital, a detoxification and rehabilitation center, an adolescent residential facility, and a fully-accredited middle and high school for students classified as emotionally disturbed.

For additional information about Hackensack Meridian Health, please visit For additional information about Carrier Clinic, please visit

For Immediate Release
Mar 26, 2019 
Contact : Sheri Hensley, Hackensack Meridian Health