HCA Healthcare, J&J explore better outcomes, nurse training, early cancer detection in new partnership

Two of the biggest names in hospitals and pharma have struck a partnership aimed at improving outcomes and workforce issues weighing down the healthcare industry.

HCA Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson outlined Tuesday morning three areas in which the former’s 35 million annual patient encounters and 93,000 nurses could benefit from the latter’s research and development knowhow.

First, the companies will be collaborating on a “scalable program” to detect early-stage lung cancer among Black patients, kicking off with an early identification pilot program they will begin to build “in the coming months.”

Second, HCA will be incorporating Johnson & Johnson’s nursing resources within its facilities and affiliate Galen College of Nursing. The two will also jointly build nurse education programs intended to address health equity, build nurses’ skills and improve patient outcomes.

Finally, the hospital chain’s HCA Healthcare Research Institute will be working with Johnson & Johnson on various cardiovascular health research projects. Among those teased were a retrospective analysis of heart arrhythmia patients and an investigation on how digital health technology could impact coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease outcomes.

“HCA Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson have had a long and productive relationship, and both companies have worked very hard to address many of our country’s healthcare challenges,” HCA CEO Sam Hazen said in a press release. “We believe strongly in the power of strategic partnerships, and we are excited to collaborate to advance health equity, enhance patient care and provide even greater support to our nurses.”

The companies’ announcement was light on expected timelines, key deliverables or the resources each entity would be contributing to the efforts.

HCA Healthcare is foremost among the industry’s largest systems, with 182 hospitals and roughly 2,300 ambulatory care sites. The organization landed more than $1.8 billion in net income during 2021 and—much like the rest of the industry—bemoaned the slower-than-expected recovery of nurses and other workers in its most recent earnings call.

Johnson & Johnson was the third most profitable pharma company last year with nearly $20.9 billion in net income. Total sales were up year over year as of its most recently closed quarter.

“No one company can solve society’s most pressing health challenges alone—it takes collaboration,” Joaquin Duato, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, said in the press release. “That’s why we’re working with HCA Healthcare to improve patient access and outcomes, address the nursing crisis and advance health equity. We are united in our focus to improve patient care.”