The benefits of care coordination are numerous, especially for patients seeing multiple specialists and those with chronic diseases. Yet a recent survey of 1,000 senior citizens reveals that a surprising majority of them lack quality care coordination.
The survey, conducted by CareMore Health in collaboration with Harris Poll, found that nearly 70% of seniors reported either having their care coordinated by a family member, or having no care coordination whatsoever. That’s problematic, especially for such a vulnerable population.
“Navigating the health care system is inherently challenging and is even more perplexing for seniors,” Dr. Sachin H. Jain, president of CareMore, said in a press release. “Many suffer from chronic diseases like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, and are at high risk for complications.”
Patients are more at risk for complications when seen by multiple providers, which often comes with aging as health issues compound. 85% of those surveyed reported that they had been diagnosed with at least one serious health condition. And 64% reported that they had seen three or more separate providers within the past year. Yet, even with multiple specialists and chronic conditions, so many seniors do not have adequate coordination, heightening the possibility of miscommunication, a truly dangerous problem in healthcare. When care is not coordinated by a professional, there is even more room for error.
But it’s not just those with chronic conditions dealing with these issues. A full 63% of seniors who had been hospitalized reported that they had no one to coordinate their care in the first few months after their stay. This is the make-or-break time period during which complications are most threatening, and one wrong move can easily cause a patient to end up right back in the hospital.
“Responses to the survey reinforce the importance of engaging patients by providing access to a comprehensive health care team and services to enable access to optimal care and coordination,” said the survey’s authors. “Successful care delivery models of the future will harness the power of teamwork to meet the medical, psychological, social and personal health needs of the patients they serve.”
Further, 34% of respondents reported wanting their health providers to offer non-medical services, with 36% wanting opportunities to interact with peers and the community. According to the survey, loneliness and social isolation are significant factors that can have a negative impact on seniors’ health. Holistic, patient-centered care often involves providing services that, while non-medical, are important to ensuring that patients’ overall wellbeing comes first. Some providers have already teamed up with Uber, Lyft and other transportation services to begin integrating the practical and medical sides of treatment.
Despite the lack of quality care coordination, 95% of seniors reported being satisfied with their treatment. So, how do these numbers reconcile? Even if treatment is good, there is always room for improvement. And while the majority of respondents stated that they are satisfied with their healthcare, the industry must still care for those who do face significant barriers to treatment.
Further, many patients who have had no experience with care coordination may not be aware of the benefits it offers as well as the positive impact it has across so many specialties. Senior citizens often feel as if they are forgotten in health care; care coordination’s goal is to fix that and, in doing so, ensure positive treatment outcomes in a more patient-centered environment.