Patients naturally are interested in knowing the potential outcomes of the treatment they will be receiving. But increasingly they want to know what treatment options are available and how they will receive their care.

Darlene Hanley, CEO of St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center, who has worked in the health care industry for more than 20 years, sees several trends that are changing patient-provider relationships. “The hospital and pharmaceutical industries are being shaken up,” she says.

Hanley will take part in a CEO roundtable discussion on healthcare trends and strategies and the future of care in New Jersey at the “Business of Health” symposium organized by the Princeton Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, September 20, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Rider University’s Bart Lue­deke Center, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville. Tickets are $60, $75 for nonmembers and can be reserved online at or by calling 609-924-1776.

Keynote speaker Cathleen Bennett, commissioner of the state Department of Health, will discuss current and future healthcare issues. Following Bennett’s address, there will be a panel discussion titled “The Art of the Deal: Doing Business with Hospitals in our Region,” followed by “Health Insurance: Innovations and Cost Containment,” which will include an update on the Affordable Care Act. The CEO roundtable will conclude the symposium.

Hanley sees several trends affecting individuals as well as providers, insurers, and employers. Patients are becoming more actively engaged in decisions that affect their health, including lifestyle, treatment plans, facilities, and communication with healthcare providers. She also sees healthcare providers and governments showing greater interest in healthy outcomes for patients:

Nurse practitioners: New Jersey is increasingly accepting the practice of nurse practitioners (NPs) working with more independence from doctors. This is especially true in the home care and mental health models. Hanley sees this potential expanding in hospitals as well.

Patient involvement: Patients are growing more savvy about treatment options and more willing to ask questions. Educated patients want to know how they are spending their health dollars and want to know they are spending their money wisely.

Incentive programs: More patients are participating in well-being incentive programs in partnership with insurance companies and employers to reduce premium costs or to receive cash rewards. Programs that focus on things like weight reduction and smoking cessation can bring down the cost of premiums.

Remote care/telemedicine combined with technology: The use of technology for communicating with patients and monitoring their conditions is growing. Hanley gives examples of scheduling ­Skype calls with health care professionals, and patients using iPads to record their activities and physical responses. Related to this care is wearable wellness technology, like Fitbit or Jawbone and various cell phone apps. Physical therapy can be done at home with visits from the therapist. Hanley finds that remote care or telehealth is most successful when the patient is motivated or has strong family support.

Mental health and well-being: The impact of mental health on physical health is accepted on both state and federal levels and by insurers and employers today. On an individual level, participation in programs like mindfulness and yoga has grown over the past several years.

Community care: The number of team-based medical homes and acute care facilities is growing, offering patients time and cost savings, especially among the uninsured.

Value-based reimbursement to hospitals and physicians: Hanley sees a shift in many medical groups from fee for service, in which a patient pays for services rendered, to value-based care, where payment is aligned with quality and successful outcomes. New Jersey and other states are experimenting with this concept. Among other considerations, it involves changing the mindset of practitioners, Hanley says.

Generic drugs: A huge cost of treatment is medication. Hanley says there is pressure on the FDA to reduce the trial time of generics and get them to market faster.

Joining Hanley in the roundtable discussion will be Richard Freeman, president and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Hospital Hamilton; Vince Costantino, chief administrative officer of St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton; and Al Maghazehe, president and CEO of Capital Health in Hopewell. Attorney Christine Stearns will moderate the roundtable.

Participants in the panel discussions include executives from New Jersey Manufacturers, Capital Health, Robert Wood Johnson, St. Francis Medical Center, Rue Insurance, AmeriHealth, and New Jersey Association of Health Plans.

Hanley chose to make her career in the healthcare industry because it gave her the opportunity to help people and offered her career opportunities. Growing up in a middle class neighborhood in Union County, she was the first in her family to go to college. Her father, a tool and dye maker, and her mother, the family homemaker, supported her desire for education but wanted her to choose a practical field of study. She attended Seton Hall University, first earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing and later a master’s degree in public administration-health care in 1997.

Before becoming the president and CEO of St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center in 2011, she worked at the Lawrenceville Road-based facility as assistant administrator of operations/chief nursing officer and licensed nursing home administrator for several years and also served as chairperson for the Greater Mercer County Public Health Partnership.

One of Hanley’s early memories of health care was from the original Star Trek television series. She recalls that Dr. “Bones” McCoy would diagnose and fix the patient’s problem by running a scanner over his body. “We seem to be heading in that direction,” she says with a laugh. But on a more thoughtful note, she says the best investment you can make in yourself is to be an educated consumer. “Investment in your health is priceless,” says Hanley.

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