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Sharp Memorial, West Health to Develop Best Practices for Senior Care

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   January 11, 2023

The two San Diego-based healthcare organizations have forged a three-year deal to develop an integrated care management plan for seniors, incorporating everything from primary care to inpatient services to home-based care.

Two San Diego-based healthcare organizations are joining forces to develop an integrated care management model for the nation's growing senior population.

Sharp Memorial Hospital and West Health have entered into a three-year deal to create a "model of excellence for older-adult care," which would bring together best practices for everything from primary care to inpatient services to home-based care.

“In collaboration with Sharp Memorial Hospital, we’re bringing together incredible advancements in geriatric care that have, until now, been largely siloed within medical specialties such as emergency medicine or surgery,” West Health Chair and CEO Shelley Lyford said in a press release. “By coordinating senior-friendly care across the entire health system, we’ll be amplifying those advancements and helping older patients achieve the best-possible healthcare experience.”

“Our population is rapidly shifting; by 2030, the number of older adults in San Diego will be 80 percent higher than the decade earlier,” added Tim Smith, Sharp Memorial's senior vice president and CEO. “These are valued members of our community who deserve the best-possible care. But the needs of older patients are quite different than those of the average adult, and that’s what’s driving our commitment to create new and better standards of care.”


The growing senior population is expected to strain the resources of the nation's healthcare industry, which is already struggling with staff and provider shortages amid a bad economy. In addition, many seniors are looking to remain in their homes for a longer time, rather than move in with family or into senior care facilities, putting pressure on healthcare to improve home-based monitoring and care management services.

Some health systems, like Dartmouth Health in New Hampshire, have developed specific geriatric care programs, and the American College of Surgeons offers certification for geriatric surgery. Sharp Memorial and West Health, a collection of non-profits focused on senior care services and successful aging, want to create a platform of care management that eliminates siloed services and gives healthcare organizations a master plan for treating seniors. It would include care coordination as well as senior-specific programs.

“West Health and Sharp Memorial are reimagining what successful system-wide care can look like for older-adult patients, and we’ll share the model with the world in the hopes others will make the same transformation,” Lyford said in the press release. “Already, hospital systems are seeing the positive impact of geriatric specialty care in emergency settings and operating rooms. Just think of the impact when that level of care extends throughout the entire system in an intentional and coordinated manner.”


“Injuries and illnesses in older patients can have immediate, permanent consequences on their independence and mobility,” added Diane Wintz, MD, a Sharp-affiliated critical care specialist and medical director of the Trauma Program at Sharp Memorial Hospital who helped forge the alliance with West Health. “We see the best results when there’s an exceptional level of teamwork across departments and specialties. We want to see emergency teams, surgeons, pharmacists, and primary care providers taking collaboration to a whole new level for our older patients.”

Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The nation's senior population is growing, putting a strain on a healthcare system that is already dealing with staff and provider shortages and weakened operating margins.

Sharp Memorial Hospital and West Health are joining forces to develop a national model for senior care, incorporating everything from geriatric surgery to primary care to health and wellness.

The platform would pull together best practices from across the country and aim to eliminate siloed programs.


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