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Advancing Health Podcast: Enhancing Care for Older Patients With Age-Friendly Health Systems

Raahat Ansari, a host of the “Advancing Health,” a podcast from the American Hospital Association, recently interviewed Sonja Rosen, MD, section chief of Geriatric Medicine at Cedars-Sinai, about how age-friendly health systems help provide quality care. Rosen, professor of Medicine, also discussed a study she co-authored that found Cedars-Sinai’s Geriatric Fracture Program reduces hospitalization time for older patients who have broken a bone.

By 2030, there will be more than 70 million people over the age of 65 in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Because of a shortage in geriatricians, most of the healthcare for older adults in the U.S. will be provided by physicians in other specialties.

To address that gap, Cedars-Sinai and other age-friendly health systems create programs that focus on the “4Ms”: what matters most to older patients, patient mentation (mental functioning), patient mobility and medication safety. "By doing so, really in any program, we're going to help ensure that we're providing optimal care for our older patient population without necessarily having a geriatric provider directly providing that service,” Rosen told Ansari.

A good example, Rosen said, is Cedars-Sinai’s Geriatric Fracture Program, a collaboration of the Department of Orthopaedics and the Geriatric Section of Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Medicine. This program focuses on decreasing time to surgery for older adults who come to the hospital after experiencing a significant fracture, and ultimately decreasing their length of stay, Rosen told Ansari. When enrolled patients leave the hospital, clinicians follow up to assess the patient's bone health and develop strategies for future fall prevention.

In a recent study of the program, authors examined the health records of patients 65 and older with non-spine traumatic fractures who were cared for by physicians at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Investigators compared data from 746 patients who participated in the Geriatric Fracture Program with data from 852 patients who were not enrolled in the program.

The findings, published in a Health Services Research special issue on aging, showed that patients enrolled in the Geriatric Fracture Program experienced 2.12 fewer days in the hospital, a significant difference. Hospitalization also cost an average of about $5,000 less for program participants compared with patients not in the program. 

“We really focused on how to make sure that when patients leave the hospital, they still have their bone health … and strategies for future fall prevention have been addressed so that these things don’t happen again,” Rosen said.

Click here to listen to the complete “Advancing Health Podcast” episode.