US healthcare providers prioritize improvement of older adult care during continuing COVID-19 pandemic

Feb. 12, 2021

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) released a new piece of data that reflects a heightened urgency for health systems to prioritize age-friendly healthcare and implement the 4Ms framework, which improves care for older adults: From March 2020 through December 2020, 1,671 US care sites joined the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement, representing an 85 percent jump in overall participation, announced IHI in a press release. This brings the total number of care locations involved in the movement to 1,956.

People aged 65 years and older have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, putting into new perspective the impact of this population’s size and distinct medical needs on the US healthcare delivery system. For this age group in particular, COVID-19 can lead to serious and rapid declines in health and exacerbate known social concerns that can contribute to poor health outcomes. These include social isolation (which is associated with cognitive decline, harmful falls, and decreased mobility), as well as isolation in healthcare settings, which helps to reduce virus spread but can also amplify emotional distress among patients and their families, friends, and caregivers. Faced with this challenge, primary care clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and convenient care clinics have increasingly turned to the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement, funded by The John A. Hartford Foundation, and its 4Ms framework as the evidence-based solution.

“There has perhaps never been a more critical time to prioritize rapid improvement in older adult care,” said Dr. Kedar Mate, President and CEO, IHI. “We are incredibly heartened by the ever increasing number of providers actively participating in the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement and to our funders for their generous support. Through this work, we are learning and sharing difficult but important lessons that will help us improve care for older adults now, during this pandemic, and fortify our systems for later so we are ready whenever the next crisis arrives.”

Age-Friendly Health Systems is actively recruiting participants, offering three ways to join and requiring no fee to participate.  Age-Friendly Action Communities, led by expert faculty, help health system leaders and improvers accelerate reliable practice of the 4Ms, while learning with and from fellow participants. Now open for enrollment, the 2021 action communities will run from March through October. Interested providers can read more in this 2021 IHI Age-Friendly Action Community invitation to join, which includes details about an upcoming informational webinar, taking place Feb. 23, 2021 at 1 PM EST.

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) pathway offers an on ramp to systems that want to start independent work on the 4Ms right away and at their own pace. Health systems can sign up for this pathway via the Age-Friendly DIY participant form.

Scale-up Accelerator is designed for larger health systems seeking system-wide AgeFriendly implementation. This pathway provides specialized support for system leadership, clinical leadership, and point-of-care operations to adopt the 4Ms. Interested systems can email [email protected] for more information.

The Age-Friendly Health Systems movement is an initiative of The John A. Hartford Foundation and IHI in partnership with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA).

Institute for Healthcare Improvement has the release.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.