Health AGEnda

Hijacking Our Issue

Today’s test: Fill in the blank.

Please complete this sentence:

Because the number of older adults is growing rapidly (some 10,000 turn 65 each day) and, therefore, rates of chronic illness and health care use/spending are increasing rapidly, we must ____________________________________.

Reasonable people can disagree about what new ideas or plans might fill in that blank.  Perhaps there should be a much bigger role for non-physician primary care professionals specially trained in geriatrics to bridge the ambulatory care void and help people stay healthier and out of expensive hospitals.  Perhaps there should be a radical commitment to a public health approach that goes beyond kids and addresses high value secondary and tertiary prevention for high cost illnesses.  Perhaps we should try to do what the 2008 IOM Retooling committee report recommended: greatly expand the health care workforce specializing in geriatric care; increase the geriatrics training of nearly all non-specialists; and use our existing workforce more effectively (including patients and paid and unpaid direct care workers).

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