(This post first appeared on the Altarum Health Policy Forum. In a future post I'll tie it into advanced medical homes and other aspects of health reform that address the needs of the chronically ill and the elderly.)
Transitions are one of the weak points in the U.S. health care system. Poor coordination and inadequate communication around transitions is particularly pronounced in the care of frail elderly people with multiple chronic diseases -- or maybe an acute illness or injury on top of a whole big bunch of chronic diseases.
Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis is a large urban safety net hospital serving largely low-income people, many of whom are “dually eligible” for Medicaid and Medicare. Led by geriatrician Dr. Steve Counsell, the hospital has been developing a multi-pronged strategy to improve care and care coordination for this at-risk population. The programs have a smart approach to the shortage of geriatricians, leveraging the skills of geriatricians and geriatric nurse practitioners to support, not supplant, hospitalists (inpatient) and the primary care doctors (outpatient) caring for at-risk patients.