U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), award-winning author Gail Sheehy, UCLA Geriatrics Division Chief David Reuben, journalist and activist Jonathan Rauch, and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Director of Delivery System Reform Peter Lee joined patients, caregivers, health care providers and experts here today at the “Building Better Care Forum: Improving the System For Delivering Health Care to Older Adults and Their Families.”
The National Press Club event was sponsored by the Campaign for Better Care, a multi-year initiative working to improve health care quality, coordination and communication for older patients with multiple health problems and their family caregivers.
In our health care system today, older adults with multiple chronic conditions face enormous hurdles to getting the care they need. Those with five or more chronic conditions make, on average, 37 visits to 14 different doctors who prescribe 50 separate prescriptions in the course of a year. Many receive duplicative tests and procedures, different diagnoses from different physicians, and contradictory information on how to manage their conditions. They experience complications from inappropriately prescribed medications, suffer from preventable medical errors, and are frequently hospitalized for conditions that could be treated in ambulatory settings. When they are discharged from a hospital, they often go home without the information, support and follow-up they need to take care of themselves. As a result, one in 10 is readmitted to a hospital within 15 days and one in five is back in the hospital within 30 days. They and their families are left on their own to find and arrange the services they need to manage their care and stay out of the hospital or nursing home.
“The status quo is simply unacceptable. We need to reinvent our health care system so it works much better for vulnerable older patients and their family caregivers,” said National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. “We need to help doctors, nurses and social workers work together as a team; put medical records at our fingertips; and ensure that care is coordinated so patients and families no longer have to fend for themselves during the most stressful periods of their lives. These are the goals of the Campaign for Better Care and why we are here, at this Forum, today.”
The “Building Better Care Forum” featured speakers from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and the Washington, D.C. area.
The Campaign for Better Care’s policy agenda aims to ensure that the reformed health care system provides the comprehensive, coordinated, patient- and family-centered care that older adults and individuals with multiple health problems need. It is advocating for better ways of delivering care including effective care coordination, transition management, medication reconciliation, support for patients and their family caregivers, and care that is culturally and linguistically appropriate. It supports payment strategies that enhance primary care practice and reward better quality, coordination and communication among providers, patients and family caregivers. It is pressing for performance measurement that holds providers accountable and sets priorities for quality improvement. It promotes effective use of health information technologies. It is pressing for assessment of patient experience to improve care and tools that empower patients and caregivers to make fully informed decisions.
Today’s Forum was webcast live, and is available for viewing at www.CampaignforBetterCare.org.