For 20 years, the Hartford Centers of Excellence (CoE) in Geriatric Medicine have been supporting the development of geriatrician faculty at schools of medicine across the country. These scholars have become researchers, educators, and clinicians, helping transform academic medicine to better prepare the next generation of physicians to care for older adults.
As we forge ahead with our new strategic plan to rapidly change health care practice to improve the health of older adults, our funding for the Centers is winding down. We are now intent on helping current CoE scholars and alumni, in addition to our academic superstars in nursing and social work, utilize their geriatrics expertise to change health care delivery for the benefit of older adults. We believe this is best achieved by helping them to connect and collaborate.
We are pleased that many of our existing grants are aiding in this transition. Funds within the CoE program, administered by our grantee the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), have been repurposed to bring together CoE Scholars and support their work to improve care for older adults. In doing so, we are offering five $40,000 grants to fund collaborative pilot projects.
While we can all see problems in the care of older adults all around us in both our personal and professional lives, figuring out how to deliver better care at a lower cost is not easy.
The John A. Hartford Foundation has been working on demonstration programs for many years and while some are great successes, it is not uncommon for even well-designed interventions to increase costs due to the added services being delivered and the discovery of unmet needs.
Even worse, it is also possible for an intervention designed with all the expertise and good will in the world to fail to change health outcomes or even patient satisfaction with care.
Change is hard. It takes leadership to drive change. Robert Jarvik—a former John A. Hartford Foundation grantee and inventor of the artificial heart—once said, “Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.”
Today’s successful leaders need that same vision, but they also require a set of skills that go far beyond their clinical training and experience. They need strategies to address policy and payment methodology. They need to engage stakeholders. And they need to measure what matters in terms of cost and quality.
In order to develop this new kind of leadership, people capable of driving health care redesign for vulnerable elders, the Hartford Foundation funds—in partnership with The Atlantic Philanthropies—the Practice Change Leaders Program.
Ok. We did it. We collectively put Chris Langston’s “What-if-we-have-a-party-and nobody-shows” fears to bed.
We had hoped for 200 attendees at our launch of the Change AGEnts Initiative at the Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) annual meeting last month. Huzzah! Close to 400 Change AGEnts showed and actively participated in the interactive activities designed to inspire conversation and connections.
In case the launch or the AGEnts initiative has been off your radar:
In health care for older adults (and for everyone really), we know where we want to end up.
It gets articulated in different ways, but generally speaking I think we can all agree we want care for our older loved ones that is coordinated, comprehensive, continuous, and geriatrically expert.
But the path that gets us to that destination is often unclear. To help guide us—the John A. Hartford Foundation and all other stakeholders in the business of health care—we have just funded three grant projects that we hope will shine a light on the way forward.
Thank you to everyone who attended the Change AGEnts initiative launch event at the Gerontological Society of America annual meeting last week in New Orleans!
Nearly 400 Change AGEnts – individuals who have been touched by a Hartford grant – joined in the evening’s activities to connect with each other and begin identifying ways to change health care practice to improve the health of older adults.
Our goal was to create an interactive, innovative, inspiring, interdisciplinary event focused on how we can all work together to change health care. Thanks to the incredible enthusiasm and energy in the room, we believe we succeeded.
Graffitti by the street artist Banksy.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead
Our mission at the John A. Hartford Foundation is to change the health of older Americans for the better. And despite the national investment in health care and the excitement of research, I don’t think we are alone in seeing this as a long, slow road.
My colleague, Marcus Escobedo, and I have been on the road quite a bit lately with our dog and pony show about one the newest initiatives borne from our strategic plan: The Change AGEnts.
Since we have been getting a lot of questions (and interest) and because some of you may not have had the opportunity to see us in person, we thought it would be helpful to put together this FAQ.
What is the Change AGEnts Initiative?