Successful Models of Comprehensive Care for Older Adults with Chronic Conditions: Evidence for the Institute of Medicine's “Retooling for an Aging America” Report
The quality of chronic care in America is low, and the cost is high. To help inform efforts to overhaul the ailing U.S. healthcare system, including those related to the “medical home,” models of comprehensive health care that have shown the potential to improve the quality, efficiency, or health-related outcomes of care for chronically ill older persons were identified. Using multiple indexing terms, the MEDLINE database was searched for articles published in English between January 1, 1987, and May 30, 2008, that reported statistically significant positive outcomes from high-quality research on models of comprehensive health care for older persons with chronic conditions. Each selected study addressed a model of comprehensive health care; was a meta-analysis, systematic review, or trial with an equivalent concurrent control group; included an adequate number of representative, chronically ill participants aged 65 and older; used valid measures; used reliable methods of data collection; analyzed data rigorously; and reported significantly positive effects on the quality, efficiency, or health-related outcomes of care. Of 2,714 identified articles, 123 (4.5%) met these criteria. Fifteen models have improved at least one outcome: interdisciplinary primary care (1), models that supplement primary care (8), transitional care (1), models of acute care in patients' homes (2), nurse–physician teams for residents of nursing homes (1), and models of comprehensive care in hospitals (2). Policy makers and healthcare leaders should consider including these 15 models of health care in plans to reform the U.S. healthcare system. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would need new statutory flexibility to pay for care by the nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and physicians who staff these promising models.