Juniper CEO Shares Vision for Future Model of Seniors Living, With Genomics-Informed ‘Lifestyle Prescriptions’


Juniper Communities and its CEO Lynne Katzmann have earned a reputation for innovation in the lives of older adults, through efforts such as the Connect4Life integrated care model, Medicare Advantage leadership through the Perennial Consortium, and new approaches to the experience of residents such as Broadway Senior.

Today, Juniper is working on a senior lifestyle model for the next generation of consumers, and Katzmann shares key elements of his vision and outlines some of the first steps the company is taking to reach ambitious goals, including the harnessing genomics to create what Katzmann calls a “lifestyle prescription” for residents.

Katzmann holds a doctorate. from the London School of Economics and has always anchored Juniper’s innovations in research. While building on a scientific evidence base, she also draws on her own personal experiences and thoughts to lead Juniper.

This is because she was born in 1956, part of the baby boomer generation. Many of his generation are currently looking for senior residences for their parents, and the baby boomers themselves will become more and more residents in the years to come.

“We all seem to cherish our individuality and strive for a life that is not only true to ourselves, but that meets our unique needs and wants,” Katzmann observed in a presentation she prepared for the recent Senior Living Innovation event. Forum, and which she shared with Senior Housing News.

Indeed, personalization is at the heart of Katzmann’s vision for the future. And she believes that by taking a more personalized approach, senior care providers can not only attract more consumers and improve the quality of life for older people, but also change healthcare paradigms to improve. clinical results and reduce costs.

Write a “lifestyle prescription”

Katzmann’s approach to personalization was influenced by the work of Eric Topol. A cardiologist, Topol has established himself as a leader in the field known as personalized medicine or precision medicine.

Topol believes genomics – driven by the ability to map complete sets of DNA – is possibly the most important healthcare breakthrough of the past 50 years. This is because an individual’s genetic profile contains powerful information about susceptibility to particular diseases and other health problems, and offers clues to the most effective treatments and interventions.

Katzmann is “bothered” by the typical approach of allopathic medicine of trying to cure disease, and focuses on the potential of genomics to support a more preventive approach.

“Curing someone after they’ve fallen ill is expensive and frankly that’s not what I want. I would rather not get sick in the first place, ”she said in her SLIF presentation.

Beyond his own preferences, Katzmann cites statistics showing the enormous burden chronic disease places on the U.S. health care system – for example, people with one or more chronic diseases account for $ 1.5 trillion in dollars. annual health spending, according to a study by Michael Pignone of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Katzmann’s interest in genomics has grown even more urgent in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Juniper’s Covid-19 test partner Dascena was sequencing positive results to determine which variant was present – and Katzmann confirmed that Dascena could also use the same samples used in Covid tests to sequence residents’ DNA, along with their permission.

Now Juniper and Dascena have drawn up the legal documents necessary to obtain this residence permit. So the pieces are almost in place to begin collecting genetic information from Juniper’s Resident Database, which will be an innovative step towards creating a more personalized model of the elderly life.

However, having genetic data on residents is not enough, Katzmann points out – traditional health data and data related to individual behaviors and preferences are also needed.

Such datasets are available through electronic medical records and resident profiles that many senior residence service providers create. In Juniper’s case, these resident profiles are captured in “My Life Story” documents that focus on lifestyle and health-related activities that residents were practicing, currently doing, and would like to engage in.

Once all of these types of data are normalized and aggregated, algorithms can be created to produce the “lifestyle prescriptions” that Katzmann wishes to provide to every resident. Such prescriptions would be highly personalized, based on each individual’s past experiences, lifestyle habits, goals and genetics.

Katzmann acknowledges that “a tremendous amount of work” needs to be done to put all of this data together in a way that informs an algorithm. However, she believes that natural language processing and other evolving disciplines of machine learning and artificial intelligence may ease the effort, and a lifestyle prescription could become a reality within two or three years.

Adopt a “lifestyle plan”

Creating a lifestyle prescription would be a breakthrough for elderly care providers, but it is only a first step.

Providers must then be able to adopt a “lifestyle plan” that will include interventions related to a resident’s risk profile and programs to help residents thrive, Katzmann said.

She envisions a variety of innovations related to how lifestyle plans might be structured and implemented, including:

– A lifestyle coach who will work directly with residents, offering support and encouragement to pursue their lifestyle plans

– A technological infrastructure that will empower residents while alleviating the burden on staff – for example, a system that will recognize the types of activities a resident frequently participates in, suggest other relevant programs, and allow residents to easily enroll in these activities and manage their schedules

– Innovative partnerships with a variety of organizations beyond the walls of the elderly community, to create intergenerational experiences and exciting engagement opportunities that meet the specific needs and desires of particular resident populations

Juniper is already evolving its approach to resident engagement based on these principles.

For example, Juniper’s work with Music Theater International (MTI) to bring Broadway Senior to fruition illustrates the power of partnerships. And each Juniper community has until the end of 2021 to develop partnerships so that once a week communities have a different partnership program.

“We’re changing the model of how you do business… and it’s really starting to work,” Katzmann told SHN.

She also cites the Mather Institute’s New People-Centered Model of Wellbeing as a useful framework on how to “empower people to choose the types of fulfillment that match their aspirations”.

In particular, Mather cited research showing that the well-being of residents is closely related to the “3 A’s” of autonomy, achievement and affiliation. A solid lifestyle plan might involve programming that supports the 3 Aces – Mather CEO Mary Leary described shinrin-yoku’s “forest bath” as an example.

While Katzmann will no doubt continue to refine its vision, and Juniper is still in the early stages of implementing some new concepts, the company’s track record suggests that other vendors should take note of the direction of the organization.

Juniper was one of the first to pivot its approach to healthcare in response to the Affordable Care Act, and the resulting Connect4Life model has become an industry touchstone, authorized as a template for other seniors’ organizations to use when entering the Medicare Advantage space. Katzmann herself was inducted into the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) Hall of Fame in 2020.

Seeing that meeting the baby boom generation is imperative, Katzmann begins to share his latest ideas, inspirations from across the industry and other fields, and the lessons Juniper is learning from the field. And she’s not the only senior executive who recognizes the trend for personalization, with Discovery Senior Living’s ‘experiential life’ model and Watermark Retirement’s ‘precision wellness’ approach being two examples of how. other suppliers are moving in this direction.

While various organizations will take different approaches to serving the baby boomer generation, Katzmann believes that future success will be underpinned by a few core principles, which she summarized in the conclusion of her SLIF presentation:

“We all need to understand that the integration of data and experiential programming – a high-tech, high-tech approach – is our path to the next generation of seniors. “

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