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Innovations in Health Care Delivery
January 5, 2016

Delivery Models for High-Risk Older Patients: Back to the Future?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3CareMore Health System/Anthem Inc, Cerritos, California
  • 4Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California
JAMA. 2016;315(1):23-24. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.17029

Current care models and delivery systems frequently fail to meet the needs of high-risk older patients. Medicare beneficiaries with multiple comorbid conditions often receive poorly coordinated care, leading to frequent hospital and emergency department visits, increased rates of readmissions, and suboptimal outcomes.1

Improving care for high-risk older patients has been an area of health care system and policy-maker attention for nearly 2 decades. Despite widespread use, outpatient care management interventions focusing on care coordination, medication adherence, and self-management have produced mixed results.2,3 Within this population, programs focusing on transitions among inpatient, postacute, and community sites of care are often more successful. For example, the transitional care model4 at the University of Pennsylvania successfully reduced inpatient utilization and improved select outcomes, such as readmissions, hospital days, and charges for health care services. However, replication and widespread adoption of these and other related programs have failed—adding another layer of care simultaneously addresses and undermines time-sensitive coordination and cooperation among hospital teams, patients, in-home caregivers, and primary care clinicians.