Independence Blue Cross, Signify Health partner on community health network

Independence Blue Cross is partnering with Signify Health to launch a community health network that aims to better coordinate services for members' socioeconomic needs.

CommunityLink will unite eight community organizations in the Philadephia region with Independence's registered nurse health coaches and Signify's social care coordinators to work together on coordinating care for Medicare Advantage members for social needs.

Additional community groups are expected to join the network in the future.

Beginning in 2021, providers will be able to use CommunityLink to make referrals as well, Independence Blue Cross and Signify said in an announcement.

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CommunityLink combines data analytics with in-house visits facilitated by Signify's team to provide a portrait of a member's whole-person health within a safe platform. Independence as well as the participating community organizations will be able to track a member's interactions with care providers, social services providers and other community groups over time.

Daphne Klausner, senior vice president of senior markets at Independence Blue Cross, told Fierce Healthcare that the two companies had been longtime partners, and this initiative exemplifies the old adage of teaching a man to fish instead of merely giving him fish.

Through this program, the participating community organizations gain valuable experience collaborating and sharing information with each other rather than simply being handed those data.

"I think that was the big differentiator," Klausner said.

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While it's still too early to have hard data behind the initiative, Signify's team has conducted 7,000 visits as part of the program that have identified a slew of issues that could be addressed by the participating organizations, Nathan Goldstein, chief strategy officer at Signify Health, told Fierce Healthcare.

For instance, 15% of the members the team met with reported challenges with shopping, which is a leading indicator of food insecurity, Goldstein said. Finding barriers like this can flag potential downstream issues, he said.

"To help [Independence] fulfill their mission to sort of restore those community connections is at the heart of what we’re doing," he said.