Designing an Effective Aging Practitioner Policy
The right aging policy can prevent serious issues that jeopardize patient safety—while still protecting older practitioners.
It is no longer uncommon to see practitioners working well into their 70s, 80s, and even 90s. In fact, the number of physicians age 65 and older has more than quadrupled since 1975. Older practitioners bring critical knowledge, experience, and mentoring to their profession. However, as people grow older, their performance changes due to cognitive and physical decline—and practitioners are no exception.
“This is why it is critical to have an aging practitioner policy,” says Sally Pelletier, CPMSM, CPCS, advisory consultant and chief credentialing officer with The Greeley Company. In the new brief Taking a Commonsense Approach to Aging Practitioners, Pelletier says that despite strict regulations and rules requiring practitioners to be mentally and physically able to perform their requested clinical privileges, these rules do not always catch issues related to aging. For example, peer review might fail because criteria used to measure competency in older practitioners do not specifically address changing mental acuity and physical decline.
An aging policy enables hospitals to provide quality patient care and reduce their risk of negligent credentialing, while making sure that older practitioners are treated objectively and consistently.
The brief describes five key areas an aging policy should cover, including credentialing, privileging, and mental and physical assessments. Establishing a strong framework from the start—with a seasoned physician champion and a facilitative coach who can lead policy design decisions—will result in an aging policy that works for both practitioners and hospitals. Read more here about how to create an effective aging policy.