Connect4Life graphic

Juniper Communities’ Connect4Life care coordination model soon will be finding its way into senior living communities across the country under the terms of a new five-year licensing agreement between the Bloomfield, NJ-based operator and Richmond, VA-based Medicare Advantage plan developer and administrator AllyAlign Health.

The partnership with Juniper gives AllyAlign exclusive rights to implement Connect4Life as the foundation for its Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-approved care model as part of the company’s Medicare Advantage plans nationwide. Juniper will retain the right to continue using Connect4Life in its communities and future partner locations.

Connect4Life integrates onsite primary care, pharmacy and lab services with social supports and residential care in an effort to improve outcomes and save money. An independent analysis released in 2017 found that the program resulted in 50% lower inpatient hospitalization rates, more than 80% lower readmission rates and 15% lower emergency department use for Juniper residents compared with Medicare beneficiaries who did not live in Juniper communities but had similar conditions.

Juniper and AllyAlign already have been working together on the Perennial Consortium, an operator-owned Medicare Advantage network that includes additional founding members Christian Living Communities and Ohio Living as well as other partners. Perennial uses the Connect4Life care model as a foundation for its plans, for which enrollment will begin a year from now, with coverage effective Jan. 1, 2021.

“Perennial is building scale across the country, and Connect4Life will underlie Perennial via its arrangement with AllyAlign. The new licensing arrangement with AllyAlign, however, allows Connect4Life to be used in other plans that AllyAlign has that are outside of the Perennial Consortium,” Juniper founder and CEO Lynne Katzmann, Ph.D., told McKnight’s Senior Living. “So it allows it to have greater visibility and to be more readily utilized by senior living providers across the country.”

Under the terms of the new licensing agreement, AllyAlign will pay Juniper a per-member per-month fee, Katzmann said. “It enables us to continue to develop the program in ways that help us to better share with the industry and create the kind of models and systems which we think support the industry into the future,” she added. Juniper and AllyAlign will continue to evolve the program over the five years of the agreement, which is renewable, Katzmann said.

Earlier this year, AllyAlign announced that it would use $10 million in investor funding to accelerate its growth with independent living, assisted living and memory care operators.

“Connect4Life licensing is one of the examples of the types of best-in-class protocols and technologies that AllyAlign is investing in as we continue to optimize services for our partners, our affiliated plans and AllyAlign-owned plans,” Amy Kaszak, president of special needs plans for AllyAlign, told McKnight’s Senior Living.

AllyAlign was attracted to Connect4Life, she said, because it “specifically is designed for senior housing providers and optimizing preventive care in service-enriched housing. It is evidence-based, with years of Juniper experience providing proven outcomes.”

Additionally, Kaszak said, “Connect4Life directly supports CMS model of care requirements and fits in with the AllyAlign model of directly engaging the senior housing team as an active participant in the plan and resident wellness.”

As of Jan. 1, 2020, AllyAlign will have Medicare Advantage plans in 19 states, including wholly owned plans in Michigan and Virginia, Kaszak said. “We are integrating Connect4Life into our I-SNP and C-SNP plans,” she added, referring to institutional special needs plans and chronic care special needs plans, respectively. “We have seen from Juniper’s outcomes that it is going to provide better outcomes for our assisted living and independent living members.”

AllyAlign already is building Connect4Life into the Medicare Advantage training and implementation process for its senior living-focused plans covered by the licensing agreement. “We’ll start having plans that are powered by the Connect4Life care model in 2020,” Kaszak said.

At the community level, Katzmann said, Connect4Life in action “really doesn’t look anything different than a hospitality model looks like. You don’t see people in white coats. This is basically using an electronic platform and a concierge, a navigator, to make things easier for our residents and our providers.”

Senior living operators who use the program aren’t changing the services they provide, she emphasized.

“We’re saying, ‘What we do is important, and being able to connect it to what other providers do is important.’ We are not those other providers, but our residents use those providers anyway,” Katzmann said. “So we’re going to create a coordinated system that helps people through transitions when they need other levels of care, but perhaps more importantly, we’re going to create a vehicle that enables us to keep people healthy longer by providing them the services that they need as soon as possible in the right setting by the right provider.”

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