Is Your Health System Age-Friendly? Join the Movement
// By Jane Weber Brubaker //
Health care spending for older adults is disproportionately higher than for other age groups. According to 2016 research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the 65 and older group — 16 percent of the population — consumes 36 percent of health spending.
The cost of care for older adults is higher, but reimbursements are lower. “It often costs more to provide care to older adults than health systems are reimbursed,” says Leslie Pelton, senior director of innovation at the Institute for Health Improvement (IHI). “We noticed that part of what was underneath that was not delivering evidence-based care reliably to older adults.”
IHI is taking a leadership role in helping health systems address these dynamics through Age-Friendly Health Systems, an initiative of The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in partnership with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA).
One organization that has pioneered specialized care for older adults is Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) in Annapolis, Maryland. In 2013, AAMC opened an “ACE” unit (acute care for the elderly), a 30-bed facility staffed by specially trained clinicians practicing evidence-based care for the elderly.
The addition of the ACE unit was a way to better serve a key population. “We have one of the highest 65-and-older admission rates in Maryland,” says Lil Banchero, MSN, RN, senior director of the Anne Arundel Medical Center’s Institute for Healthy Aging in Maryland. “How we take care of people 65 and older is actually a specialty unto itself,” she says. “The care for these patients is so totally different than how you would take care of a 45-year-old.”
In 2017, AAMC was one of five organizations — with Ascension, Kaiser Permanente, Providence, and Trinity Health — that partnered with IHI to test ideas for caring for older adults. What emerged from the collaboration was the “4Ms Framework for Age-Friendly Care.”