I don’t think we do a great job articulating why we do the things we do at the Hartford Foundation. Given the problems of the un- and under-insured among younger Americans and the many issues in aging beyond health (including basic needs like food, housing, and transportation), why do we think aging AND health is an area that is worth our while?
Our answer is fairly simple: We believe that the aging of our society is just the kind of profound social change that calls for philanthropic intervention. While the health care implications of this social transformation are only part of its consequences, they are as serious as any. Plenty of other foundations have shown how health care in the US is not the high reliability, high quality enterprise that we would all like it to be. However, what many of our health funder colleagues don’t focus upon is the tremendous impact that these quality defects have specifically on older adults (e.g., here and here).
The weaknesses of our system (focused on acute rather than chronic care and fragmented over time and place) particularly hurt older Americans. Again and again, we fail to do the things we already know can make a difference in their lives. At the Hartford Foundation, we support the combination of better educated health care professionals and better designed care delivery that we believe can improve the quality of care and the well-being of older Americans – and therefore improve our society.
In this video from a convening on innovations in care sponsored by Health Affairs, I try to make this argument to an audience interested in improvement and health reform, but not focused on older adults. I would love to know what you think of my case — how could I be clearer? What would make a greater impact? If we are to put the issue of quality care for older Americans on the national agenda, we have to reach beyond our colleagues who already agree with us.