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$10 million gift by Scott and Debby Rechler to combat disparities with AI healthcare
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$10 million gift by Scott and Debby Rechler to combat disparities with AI healthcare

Northwell Health and the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research received a $10 million gift from Scott and Debby Rechler to create the Scott and Debby Rechler Center for Health Outcomes within the Institute of Health System Science at the Feinstein Institutes. The Rechlers’ gift will support the development of large-scale data models and leverage the utilization of cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) tools to identify and address healthcare disparities and patient risk factors to ultimately improve care. The generous gift will also establish the endowed Scott and Debby Rechler Professor of Health Outcomes and support the recruitment of a nationally recognized leader for the center.

“Medical research must be focused on creating a solution to a problem,” said Michael J. Dowling, Northwell’s president and chief executive officer. “Scott and Debby’s leadership support will allow us to address health disparities, overall and in specific communities, in a way that is not being done today and could save millions of lives each year. We’re tremendously grateful for their belief in what’s possible through the establishment of this center, which has the potential to influence healthcare reform.”

By leveraging Northwell Health’s vast patient database, patient-consented quality of life research, and through the use of innovative artificial intelligence technologies, the new center will help Northwell researchers and clinicians better identify areas to improve healthcare delivery, accelerate the identification of patterns of health decline in patients, and implement proactive outreach to offer evidence-based treatments, particularly for those living in underserved and marginalized communities.

With a service area of 11 million people with more than 2 million patient visits and 5.5 million patient encounters annually, this gift gives Northwell the potential to disrupt the current healthcare model and address health disparities, rising costs, and lower life expectancies by translating research findings directly into improved clinical care across its service area that would result in healthier communities. As the largest provider of health care in New York with the most ethnically and socioeconomically diverse communities in the country, Northwell is well equipped to support the vision and launch of this center.

 “For too long, our country’s healthcare system has been focused on reacting to illness rather than taking steps to proactively prevent illness. Through the use of data, we can better identify issues early on and proactively drive healthcare outcomes before they become larger problems. This data will provide insights that will help inform healthcare protocols as well as public policy to improve the health and wellness of our communities,” said Scott Rechler, co-chair of the Feinstein Institutes board of directors and chief executive officer and chairman of RXR, one of the largest owners, managers, developers of real estate and infrastructure in New York and across the country. “With this initiative, Northwell will be able to conduct research in ways that have the potential to create a new medical model for the nation.”

This gift from Mr. and Mrs. Rechler will support the recruitment of a leading data scientist who will help shape the next generation of scientists and forge the path of this field. It will also fund the hiring of health economists and scientists to study and analyze data to identify trends and practices that can be used to create improved, more personalized care for patients.

“With this gift, we can leverage Northwell’s vast network and expertise to create a better and far more efficient means to deliver health care and improve patient outcomes to those who need it most,” said Debby Rechler. “There is simply no other healthcare provider in the State of New York that is better positioned to undertake such an effort than Northwell.”

Northwell recently launched Northwell Health Vital Sign, the first-of-its-kind program that comprises a brief quality-of-life questionnaire that will be sent to millions of Northwell patients in their preferred language, regularly over time. With the support of innovative AI technology, this patient-consented and secure data collection will fuel Northwell researchers’ and healthcare leaders’ ability to identify and address concerns hindering patients from achieving their optimal health. Through earlier interventions and care navigation, Northwell aims to measure a patient’s quality of life and offer a new way to deliver care. Research has shown that a more proactive and personal approach may help add more than a year of life to someone who has heart disease or diabetes or perhaps help a person with hypertension live disability-free for a year and a half.

“With the amount of additional data we will capture, researchers and clinicians can work together to develop new ways of providing care to patients in need,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes and the Karches Family Distinguished Chair in Medical Research. “The data will provide a wealth of knowledge that could impact many areas of science and medicine.”

Currently, health disparities in three common conditions — heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes — contribute to $19.5 trillion lost to decreases in life expectancy, disability-free living, and years in the workforce. Even if only one percent of these health disparities could be alleviated by better representation in clinical research — combined with a more proactive, quality-of-life approach to patient outcomes — it would result in more than $40 billion in gains for diabetes and $60 billion for heart disease alone. Harnessing the power of quality-of-life data and pairing it with social need mapping, technology, and evidence-based practices can transform our care for our patients, communities, and nation.

Pulling from 35,000 COVID-19 inpatients, Feinstein Institutes’ researchers published results in Nature Communications detailing the new clinical care decision-making tool

 “The Scott and Debby Rechler Center for Health Outcomes will leverage innovative technology to improve our ability to focus on the two areas patients care about most when it comes to their health: the quality and length of their life,” said the center’s co-director, Karina Davidson, PhD, senior vice president of research, director of the Feinstein Institutes’ Institute of Health System Science and the Donald and Barbara Zucker Professor in Health Outcomes at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. “The Rechlers’ generous support gives us the ability to gather, analyze and implement vital patient feedback into clinical care, all while identifying disparities and gaps in our health system. The utilization of trustworthy and transparent artificial intelligence technologies will improve our ability to actively improve the health of our communities. Our long-term aspiration is to positively impact national healthcare reform.”

“Through our innovative and simple approach of checking in with our millions of patients regularly, we hope to deliver longitudinal care as opposed to episodic care and empower our patients to understand their health before progression occurs,” said Jill Kalman, MD, Northwell’s executive vice president, chief medical officer and deputy physician-in-chief. “With this support, we can help fulfill our mission to develop science-backed methods to connect with the communities we serve and deliver better, more equitable care.”

Data is collected with the patient’s consent, secured safely and compliant with all necessary standards. AI will not replace the expertise of Northwell professionals but will serve as a tool to inform research, trends, and optimal treatment.

The Rechlers’ gift advances Northwell’s Outpacing the Impossible campaign, a comprehensive $1.4 billion fundraising effort that supports Northwell’s promise to the people it serves. The campaign’s objectives include improving hospitals and clinical programs, accelerating research and funding endowment. More than $200 million has been raised toward Northwell’s endowment program since the campaign’s inception.

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