Achieving the Triple Aim
Americans spend a lot of money on healthcare–more than any other country. In 2013, we spent an average of $8,233 per person (1), almost $4,000 more than Germany and other western nations. So, with all that spending, we’re probably healthier than those other countries, too, right?
Uh, no. We’re not.
Despite spending more on healthcare, and having access to the latest developments in medicine, we rank 34th in life expectancy. Among wealthy, developed nations, the U.S. death rate from heart disease is the second highest. Adults over age 50 are more likely to develop and die from cardiovascular disease. The U.S. has had the highest obesity rate across all age groups, and American adults have high rates of diabetes. Lung disease is more common and associated with higher risk for death. And older adults report a higher prevalence of arthritis and other disabilities that limit their daily activities. (2)
How is that possible?
The relative poor health of Americans in the midst of high healthcare costs is due in part to the tendency to associate health and healthcare, or medical treatment, as one and the same. But, there is growing evidence that the social and emotional supports provided to individuals, and the role they play in managing their own health, impact healthcare outcomes as much as, or more than the medical treatment itself. Put another way, what happens outside the clinic or the hospital is more important than what happens inside. This is especially true in considering the importance of effective long term care for people with chronic health conditions: seniors and people of any age with a disability.
Today, health care providers, insurers and other practitioners are assessing their services by applying the concept of the Triple Aim in healthcare. The Triple Aim measures the effectiveness of services by these three goals:
- Better Health: Does it promote better health in the population?
- Better Care: Does it improve outcomes in treatment?
- Lower Costs: Does it lower the overall costs of care (by reducing hospital readmissions, duplicative treatment, etc.) ?
Much of the potential for improvement in the Triple Aim comes from the non-medical services that provide social, economic and emotional supports for consumers and their families. (3)
CICOA Provides an Edge
The CICOA Edge offers consumers, caregivers and families opportunities for better health, better care and lower costs through effective coordination of long-term supportive services with the individuals’ plans of care. Long-term supportive services and timely support with care management and care transitions help improve outcomes.
CICOA does not provide medical care, but CICOA’s services can have significant impact on health and healthcare outcomes. Timely, community-based supports can help an individual follow a plan of care provided by a physician, better manage their own health, and maintain a higher degree of personal independence.
For example, one of the great challenges for someone who attempts to follow through on their doctor’s recommendation is access to care. If I don’t drive, how do I get to my follow-up appointment? How do I pay for the medications? And, can I get to the pharmacy to pick them up? Simple interventions at these access points can be highly effective in improving health outcomes.
Prevention also is a powerful tool in achieving the Triple Aim: reducing fall risks in the home, counseling on the importance of diet and nutrition to managing health, reviewing medications prescribed by multiple physicians, and peer education on how to better manage chronic illnesses. These help reduce risks of falls, improve daily habits and empower people to be more involved in their own health and healthcare.
When education, referral and empowerment are not enough, there are home and community-based services to lend a helping hand: meal preparation, bathing and dressing, friendly visits for homebound clients, and respite for family caregivers. Targeted services in the home, even if only a few hours a week, can be powerful tools in addressing the health and well-being of the people we serve.
Finally, and most importantly, the assistance offered and the care provided are based on the goals of the people we serve. Person-centered planning is at the heart of all CICOA services. What options are available for the individual? And, how can we best support those personal goals? There is growing evidence that people who are engaged with others and participate in their community have a better outlook on life–an important factor in health and wellness.
Knowing that is what gives CICOA an edge in fulfilling our mission to support seniors, people with disabilities and family caregivers.