Branching Out: Connect4Life: Something to Write Home About

by Lynne Katzmann

Like all Americans, we are living longer. And we want to live better or as we say at Juniper, “be fully alive in every season”! Today, the individuals who live in our communities have health challenges and medical needs that we need to address, while giving them the opportunity to enjoy each day without the worries typically associated with managing health care appointments, prescriptions and the like.

Connect4Life is the pioneering program we started to make care coordinated and easy to access. Equally important, Connect4Life assures that all of your providers work together to keep you well and when necessary, care for you efficiently, in your home, with us.

For most of our residents, it is reassuring to know that convenient care and service is available when needed. What we have learned is that we succeeded in providing coordinated, convenient care and service, but also achieved great clinical results. Results within Juniper’s Connect4Life program are far better than you might get at home or in a different senior living community. How do we know this?

Late last year we commissioned a group of researchers including a well-known John Hopkins scholar to review Connect4Life and help us understand whether the program actually improved wellbeing. They looked at two measures for which both we and the government (Medicare) had published reliable data: hospital admissions and hospital readmissions for the same illness within 30 days of discharge. I am happy to announce phenomenally good results! Junipers’ rates for both were substantially below other communities and even more stunning, below the rates for all 56M Medicare beneficiaries nationally regardless of where they lived. What this means is simple: convenient coordinated care is also good medicine; it keeps you healthier and allows you to live the life you want as fully as you choose. Now that’s something to write home about!

Juniper’s Technological Arc: Data Management

Don Breneman Data

Don Breneman Data

by Lynne Katzmann

In the early 1990’s our offices were wired to our first server.  Literally wired – with wires taped all over the floor in the days before wireless!  As an information pack rat, this was a great thing.  Instead of a myriad of articles and clippings, I could now file electronically. We progressed quickly by adding a variety of software, mostly on the administrative side.

Around 2010, I attended a national conference with featured speaker Newt Gingrich.  I was surprised at his interest in healthcare and his prescience in understanding that a single shared database—shared among providers – could provide us the means to assure appropriate care that improves outcomes. This shared data had the potential to reduce unnecessary tests, avoid medication errors or interactions with negative consequences and allow varied and dispersed providers serving one patient to share information and collaborate for the best results!

In 2011, Don Breneman, Vice President of Risk Management & Business Operations, began searching for software which could allow us to have a single health record for our residents that would be accessible by all of our team.  His research lead us to consider several industry specific electronic operating systems that would not only collect clinical data but would also integrate a residents basic information across our financial, marketing and risk management efforts.

Prior to 2011, Don collected and analyzed a host of key clinical indicators allowing us to spot trends that could become issues before they grew larger.  He did all of this somewhat manually with excel, but with duplicate data going in several places the chance for error was high. The choice of an integrated system, albeit imperfect was the way to go.

In 2012, Don and several members of Juniper’s Leadership team began configuring our new system to be consistent with Juniper’s operating policies and procedures.  Our goal was to reduce time used in collecting and analyzing data, to become more proactive providers and to integrate and coordinate care for our residents’ wellbeing and ultimately quality of life.

Care Transitions: Better Access to Care Means Better Health

by Lynne Katzmann

Recently, Walmart announced that it would open primary care clinics in its stores. The centers are staffed largely with physician extenders, the umbrella term for nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Services are limited to preventive care, minor treatments, diagnosis of non-complex conditions and monitoring for chronic conditions. Shortly thereafter, CVS Caremark, a national pharmacy chain changed its name to CVS Health. This coincided with its decision to stop selling tobacco products. CVS Health is also opening walk-in primary care offices; these started with providing flu and other vaccines and are expanding to provide services similar to the Walmart clinics.

I think this is just the beginning. Many retail stores, particularly those that have been involved in pharmacy, will be doing the same thing as will large employers like General Electric. Providing access to care and service early can improve quality, satisfaction and lower insurance costs. These clinics are geared to a society on the go. We want care when we need it or have the time to get it, not when our doctor has office hours!

What about seniors living at home? Our communities will soon be introduced to Redwood Health Partners, a new primary care practice located on site at Juniper Village. The goal of Redwood is to provide easily accessible care and service from credentialed providers. Instead of the doctor coming when it is convenient for him or her, the Redwood practitioners will have regular hours right in your community. They will use our electronic health record and will participate in care plan development and care conferences. They offer another resource for addressing chronic or emergent health issues. Redwood will help us “nurture the spirit of life” by keeping people in their home doing the things they love as long as possible.

We will be describing this effort to coordinate many levels of care for you in your home over the next several months. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Redwood, ask your Wellness team for a brochure or visit Redwood Health Partners online!

Image from Stockimages on http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Care Transitions: 21st Century Relationships

by Lynne Katzmann

I had the honor of attending the first global conference bringing together senior living providers with technology experts interested in designing and developing products for our “space”.  Like many others, I believe that technology will be an important part of the redesign of our current health and wellness systems and a crucial element in efforts to meet the triple aim of the Affordable Care Act; better care and service, increased quality and satisfaction, at lower system-wide costs. Continue reading