Report: Older Americans Sicker than in Other Nations

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)
Report Shows Older Americans Sicker than in Other Nations

American is No. 1 – but for the wrong reason in this case. A recent study from the Commonwealth Fund found that older Americans are the sickest among 10 industrialized nations. Nearly seven in 10 live with two or more chronic conditions, and 53% take at least four or more medications daily.

It’s sobering to recognize that so many Americans are struggling with self care during their senior years. However, it underscores the need for home health and hospice to help people successfully manage their conditions and live life to the fullest.

Researchers surveyed more than 15,000 adults aged 65 or older in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Americans surveyed reported the most difficulties with out-of-pocket expenses for medical care. Along with Canadians and Swedes, Americans had the most difficulty accessing primary care and avoiding the emergency department.

The news wasn’t all bad for the United States, however. Americans were among the most likely to:

  • Discuss healthy lifestyle protocols with a clinician
  • Have a chronic care plan tailored to their daily lifestyle
  • Engage in end-of-life care planning

It’s also interesting to note that in half the countries surveyed, 20% of those dealing with chronic conditions were caregivers themselves.

The value that home health services provide to help patients recover from hospital stays, avoid readmissions, regain independence and manage chronic conditions cannot be underestimated. More and more health systems are partnering with their own home care organizations or independent providers to extend care beyond the hospital’s four walls.

Although home health still comprises just 3% of all Medicare spending, according to 2012 calculations, the positive impact home care organizations throughout the country bring to patients every single day far outpaces the money that’s spent on your home health services.

Keep doing the good work that your organization does every day. But keep your eyes open to ways to extend care to other populations or to partner with other providers.

Learn how provide home health services to more aging Americans in their homes by partnering with ACOs and patient-centered medical homes.

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