This post is the first in a five-part series highlighting top insights from our white paper, Personalized Value-Based Care: Effective Multi-Generational Care Management Strategies.
Addressing generation-specific attitudes, concerns, and preferences regarding healthcare, as well as non-clinical factors that impact health like social determinants of health (SDOH), is integral to member engagement and better outcomes.
In this blog, we explore the Senior generation – many of which are members of Medicare (Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage, as well as possibly Medicare Part D prescription drug plans), and may also have Medicaid, TRICARE and/or VA benefits.
What Makes Seniors Unique When It Comes to Healthcare?
The Senior generation (also known as the “Silent Generation”) includes people born between 1928 and 1945.
Seniors value good service and advice from healthcare professionals. They’re also the generation most likely to face complex conditions and comorbidities, require the most medications, live in alternate housing, and need/receive health services across multiple care settings.
Many Seniors also face challenges related to social determinants of health (SDOH). Some of the most prevalent among Seniors are literacy (especially tech literacy), economic instability, food insecurity, and loneliness or feeling socially isolated.
Here’s a more in-depth look at how organizations can use the above to inform and adjust how they provide value-based care to older members.
Seniors Value Traditional, Trustworthy Healthcare
This generation is the most likely to rely on and follow doctors’ orders, according to survey results published in Integrated Healthcare Executive.
Seniors feel most comfortable receiving care from trusted professionals with whom they’ve established a relationship.
To best engage and support Seniors with their health:
- Establish and nurture personal relationshipsbuilt on trust
- Help ensure Seniorsreceive care from providers they trust
- Provide the health education and resource materials Senior members needin a timely manner and easy-to-read (and use) format
Many Seniors Lack Proficiency with Today’s Technology
Seniors are by far the most likely population to experience tech illiteracy.
75% of Seniors require help when learning how to use new technology, a Pew Research Center study found.
Moreover, many still prefer traditional communication methods including telephone calls, printed instructions, or in-person. In fact, this group is the most likely to listen to, rely on, and follow doctors’ directions and orders from their providers.
That being said, today many Seniors do have access to a computer and/or cell phone, and with a little support and help, can access and utilize digital health resources.
To help Seniors navigate the digital health landscape:
- Identify and use Seniors’ preferred communication channels(e.g., phone calls, text, email).
- Simplify tech-based interactionswhenever possible (e.g., through a telehealth solution that enables virtual visits by clicking a single link sent via text or email).
- Provide educational support as needed to walk Seniors through new technology features and tools such as a new billing portal for members online
Complex Care Challenges are Common Among Seniors
Unfortunately, Seniors are likely to have multiple chronic conditions and diseases that increase the complexity of their care.
Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is present in 73% of seniors aged 75 or older, according to 2022 data from the Alzheimer’s Association.
Additionally, many Seniors eventually require help with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), such as bathing, eating, and medication management. For these reasons, many Seniors go into assisted living facilities or nursing homes and eventually need hospice care. A high number also require long-term services and supports (LTSS).
To ensure better management of complex conditions and needs:
- De-silo member health information to provide a comprehensive view that enables cross-team collaboration and an integrated care approach across different care settings
- Leverage virtual telehealth tools to routinely connect with memberswho may need more frequent support, education or assistance with adhering to or understanding their care plan and medications
- Empower care managers to connect Senior members with LTSS organizations and servicesfor help with ADLs
Snapshot: Top Health Concerns of the Senior Generation
Before we look at the care strategies for Seniors, let’s quickly identify the top health concerns this generation faces for some context.
A combination of health concerns, SDOH challenges, and preferences shape the way Seniors approach healthcare. The following are the top health concerns for Seniors that many Medicare and Medicaid organizations are faced with addressing.
Top health concerns of Seniors to account for:
- Changes in healthcare and technology
- Complex health conditions and multiple comorbidities
- Health professionals they trust
- High-quality service
- Traditional healthcare methods
- Understanding and accessing the right health services and information
Tech-Driven Strategies to Improve Care for Seniors
Providing personalized, value-based care for older populations requires care collaboration and coordination across diverse care settings, a highly-efficient utilization management program, and a compassionate and supportive care management approach.
Payers should look for a medical management platform that provides a single, centralized ecosystem to support whole-person care, disease management, care coordination, and LTSS.
Support Collaboration, Coordination, and Care Efficiencies
The right SaaS solution will power care team collaboration as Seniors transition between acute care settings, long-term facilities, and the community. It will also support integrated care management and utilization management capabilities. HELIOS for example has HELIOSum, which is built into the HELIOS platform to deliver both care management and utilization management in a single solution so providers, payers, and care teams have a truly 360-degree view and can provide more accurate and proactive care.
The right platform can help improve care experiences and health outcomes for Seniors by empowering cross-team collaboration, care coordination, and efficiencies by:
- Event-driven triggers coupled with real-time admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) feeds to ensure that care teams are promptly notified and tasked with the next best action. Seniors often transition between acute care, long-term care, and their own residence, and cross-team collaboration and sharing of information can make transitions of care easier and safer.
- Integrated identification and stratification capabilities can guide care coordinators toward high-risk cases and streamline prioritization and risk identification efforts. This will drive critical care efficiencies, so care teams can see more patients while providing high-quality care to each at the right time, in the right way.
- Advanced data integration and analysis from across multiple care settings and services aligns care team members around a single, 360-degree member view. This allows individuals across the care continuum to better understand and respond to individual factors influencing a Senior member’s health – their history, current status, medications, preferences regarding communication and providers, education needs, mental health, and any SDOH they face.
- Address SDOH challenges with integrated community partners and a closed-loop ecosystem. Community resources and programs – think food pantries, transportation services, and social groups for Seniors – are key to addressing non-clinical factors that affect health and well-being and impact outcomes. Some medical management platforms provide integrations with such organizations to allow care managers to quickly address SDOH and other health barriers. [See more about VirtualHealth’s ecosystem and some of its partners here.]
- Built-in telehealth tools and health education resources. Care managers should ensure that Senior members understand how to access and use digital health resources and tools. Integrations with health education partners can allow care managers to select health resources and tools that are disease and condition-specific, and appropriate to a Senior member’s health and tech literacy level.