The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by the year 2030 there will be 72 million Americans 65 and older. By 2050 the number is projected to increase to 89 million.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimate 80 percent of all Americans older than 65 have been diagnosed with at least one chronic disease; 50 percent have been diagnosed with more.
The longer we live the more complex our health becomes, thus increasing the need for coordinated and comprehensive health care for our aging population. Complex health needs require the expertise of multiple specialists, all of whom prescribe medications, tests and treatments for their particular specialty.
This prompts one to ask, “Who is actually in charge of managing overall patient care?”
The Medical Home Model, a team-based approach to health care led by an individual’s primary care physician, was designed to:
▪ Improve delivery of care.
▪ Increase communication between providers and patients.
▪ Increase coordination of care.
▪ Provide timely access to necessary services.
▪ Provide accountability for prevention and wellness.
▪ Enhance overall quality.
The model promises to be a way to enhance health care in America by transforming how primary care is organized and delivered. The model’s attention to treating the whole person and linking all aspects of health care offers the potential to improve physical and behavioral health, and access to community-based services, and to refine the management of chronic conditions.
The idea is to move from a fragmented system to high-quality primary care that is more patient-focused and targeted to the complicated health concerns of older adults.
The Medical Home Model addresses complex health needs that require medical and social services support by offering patients longer appointments, involving patients and their families or caregivers communicating between themselves and specialists, and the integration of services. The coordination of care might include specialty care, hospitalization, home health care and community-based services.
Revising health care delivery using a Medical Home Model allows patients to continue their relationships with their personal primary care physicians, who will lead a team of individuals collectively responsible for ongoing whole-person care that is coordinated and integrated.
Most importantly, the model brings a commitment of quality care to patients and allows for aging with dignity.
Jennifer Davis is a licensed social worker at Baptist Health Lexington.