By Maureen Hewitt
Statistics are one way to make a point; anecdotes are another. Both approaches are viable for examining the issues related to the overwhelming need for care management for older adults.
Defining the challenge through numbers is straightforward.
- Life expectancy for Americans is 78.8 years, according to the latest from the National Center for Health Statistics.
- Baby Boomers number 74.9 million as of 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
- Approximately 92 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 77 percent have at least two, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
More of us are living longer and with multiple chronic conditions that require frequent treatment and continuing management. Couple this with the fact that 93 percent of all Medicare spending is for people with chronic illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the need for better care management is clear.
Whole Person Care
With care management, nearly every facet of the care continuum is integrated in a holistic way with a focus on personalized care, efficiency and efficacy. “Care coordination can help to improve care for this (older adult) population,” according to an issue brief published by the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, “and reduce the cost of treating them, if the most effective elements of care coordination models are identified, and challenges are addressed.”
At InnovAge, we see care management differently than other providers because we focus exclusively on the elderly through an interdisciplinary team approach. To successfully implement a holistic program, two pieces of information serve as the foundation of each personalized care management program:
- A comprehensive patient assessment
- A personal care plan
The information in these reports helps members of the interdisciplinary care team understand and address the care needs of each older adult as a unique individual. The personalized care plan may include medical and dental care; physical therapy and rehabilitation services; pharmacy; end-of-life care; and assistance navigating the complex healthcare system outside the care management program. This last piece ensures any external treatment plans and prescriptions are integrated into the larger care management system and delivered to the interdisciplinary team.
Baby Boomer Benefits
To ensure the interdisciplinary care team implements a holistic care management program for each of its patients, the group uses quality assessments to learn how they can better serve the older adult and improve the experience. Through this regular program reevaluation, the interdisciplinary team has an opportunity to make a lasting, positive impact on the health and wellness of older adults.
Eldercare providers now have a significant opportunity to help 74.9 million Baby Boomers by offering well-coordinated care management services, which can make a profound difference in their lives.
Maureen Hewitt is the President and Chief Executive Officer of InnovAge, a Denver-based provider of comprehensive healthcare services for older adults in California, Colorado and New Mexico. Hewitt has held this role since 2006 and has led for-profit and nonprofit health care organizations for 20 years. Hewitt’s experience includes leading skilled nursing/sub-acute care facilities and acute care and rehabilitation hospitals, as well as serving in volunteer board positions. Learn more at http://MyInnovAge.org and http://InnovAgeCares.com.