The health care industry is increasing their consumer focus on addressing holistic care coordination for high-need health care consumers. This requires an integrated approach to achieve better quality and performance outcomes and to increase these consumers’ capacity to live independently in their communities. Federal and state regulatory and contracting practices underscore this shift.

That's why NCOA created the Network Development Learning Collaborative (NDLC), an initiative that focuses on supporting community-based organizations (CBOs) with comprehensive training to create, enhance, and/or successfully manage community integrated health networks.

What is a community-integrated health network?

community-integrated health network (CIHN) utilizes a centralized, coordinated model for service provision by incorporating uniform logistical practices for recruitment, referral, enrollment, marketing, quality assurance, and evaluation. There are a variety of CIHN models for community-based organizations to consider. Options are discussed during the learning collaborative.

What is required to run a community-integrated health network?

A CIHN’s centralized, coordinated model is carried out under the direction of the Network Lead Entity (NLE) and is coordinated among the collective service delivery network. It provides a unified and consistent approach to program delivery across a geographic area, either regional or statewide. The central organization is the center of this business model that connects a network of partners, including health care systems and local community organizations who offer home and community-based services and evidence-based programs, all working together toward a common goal. 

Among the many benefits in the establishment of CIHNs is the capacity to: 

  • Deliver a broader scope of services to address social and behavioral determinants of health (SBDOH); 

  • Reach more diverse consumers and populations; 

  • Build stronger administrative infrastructures; 

  • Collect, share, analyze electronic health data 

  • Capitalize on economies of scale; 

  • Provide expanded regional/statewide coverage; 

  • Offer one-stop contracting for multiple services with payors; 

  • Expand quality improvement initiatives and successes; and 

  • Diversify revenue streams. 

Why are CBOs exploring coordinated contracting via CIHN models? 

The health care industry and federal and state governments often require CBOs to evaluate their traditional modes of delivering services, especially as stand-alone entities. Moreover, assessing organizational capacity and infrastructure are necessary components of a strategic business plan that supports outreach and engagement with new health care customers. According to a published survey report from USAging, the number of CBOs delivering contracted services to health care organizations has increased significantly in the last several years.

A key factor in developing productive relationships with health care organizations is the alignment of collaborative networks among CBOs.

Ongoing developments in managed long-term services and supports, Medicare Advantage, and accountable care organizations continue to transform health care delivery and quality. The 2018 CHRONIC Care Act promotes wide sweeping changes in person-centered support for Medicare Advantage enrollees. Person-centered planning and holistic approaches to care coordination are increasingly ingrained into the traditional health care delivery systems, synchronizing SBDOH with traditional clinical care. This shift adds a new wrinkle to health care consumer management. CBOs, which are the SBDOH experts, have a significant opportunity to engage with health care partners across the industry ecosystem.

CBOs that invest in developing a deeper understanding of health care organizations’ needs, create partnerships and networks to meet those needs, and define (and deliver on) the value propositions can effectively address health care organizations’ needs.

What does participation for the 2022 NDLC look like?

Participation in the NDLC provides selected participants with training on the fundamental elements of CIHN development such as identification of CBO partners, establishment of participation agreements, and exposure to the primary drivers for health care organizations to support building value propositions. 

Over a period of ten (10) months, the NDLC will provide participants with an opportunity to learn from NCOA and health care industry subject matter experts. Additionally, NDLC participants will be engaged with other CBOs across the country that have successfully created integrated networks and are contracted with health care organizations.

What is the timeline for participation? 

10 months: January – October 2022

Who are the faculty for the NDLC?

The NDLC faculty include leading experts in the development of CIHNs in the field of aging, including:

  • Sharon R. Williams, Founder of Williams Jaxon Consulting, LLC
  • Dianne Davis, Partners in Care Foundation
  • Paul Cantrell, Clearview Strategies, LLC
  • Kathleen Zuke, Associate Director, National Council on Aging
  • Laura B. Plunkett, Program Specialist, National Council on Aging

What are the NDLC learning benchmarks?

Participating organizations will work toward achieving these tactical objectives:

  • Draft a participating organization agreement;
  • Complete the USAging Readiness Assessment Tool and utilize the results to strengthen your strategic plan;
  • Complete a partnership evaluation;
  • Utilize cost calculator tools to support development of fiscal planning;
  • Detect gaps, if any, in current hub composition and identify additional partners/network participants to maximize organizational capacity; and
  • Target a local health care organization for contractual engagement.

What are the NDLC participant benefits?

  • A no-cost, significant investment in the long-term sustainability of your community-integrated network.
  • Over 15 hours of content delivered over the course of the learning collaborative, paired with defined action steps to help you create transformation. This includes monthly webinars with lectures by experts from the field, peer-to-peer learning, and discussion of suggested readings and homework assignments.
  • Access to archived presentations and resources, with the opportunity to utilize discussion boards to connect with peers.
  • Individualized support and small group mentor calls every other month for the successful execution of NDLC expectations and discussion of lessons learned and challenges.
  • Connection to experienced organizations that have successfully created community-integrated networks, contracted with health care organizations, and have received federal funding to support network development.
  • Support from the the Evidence-Based Leadership Collaborative, as requested, focused on the implementation and scaling of multiple evidence-based programs.

What is expected of NDLC participants?

The peer learning and access to faculty during this learning collaborative provided excellent opportunities to move network hubs from a centralized place for programming to an integrated and sustainable network. Though the pace was fast, having access to the information remains valuable beyond the collaborative.- 2019 Participant

Up to 10 organizations will be selected to participate in this learning collaborative. Participants will be announced in December 2021.  Participants are expected to complete the entire 10-month NDLC curriculum, which includes:

  • Identifying key community-integrated network partners to participate as a team on monthly NDLC webinars and related activities;
  • Collaborating with your team to develop measurable goals and objectives to achieve the NDLC purpose;
  • Actively participating during monthly webinars, including reporting on progress and lessons learned to encourage shared growth among all participants;
  • Dedicating 4-5 hours per month to collaborating with community-integrated network partners to prepare for monthly NDLC lectures and assignments;
  • Actively and regularly participating in ongoing discussions on the online community;
  • Submitting homework assignments and progress report updates monthly through the online community;
  • Access to mentor support calls; and
  • Becoming familiar with the community-integrated health care resources on NCOA’s website as well as other supplemental materials.

How does my organization apply to participate?

Complete the online application to apply for participation in the learning collaborative. Letters of support are required from the lead organization and key partners identified.

Key Dates:

  • Application released: September 29, 2021 
  • Application deadline: November 12, 2021 (By midnight, local time) 
  • Selected participants notified: December 17, 2021
  • Monthly webinars: To be announced

Print the PDF of the application by clicking here. If you have any questions regarding the learning collaborative, please contact Kathleen Zuke (kathleen.zuke@ncoa.org).

The learning collaborative is funded by the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.