Finally, many new models incorporate the use of various technologies. Health information technologies, such as electronic health records, facilitate the sharing of information among providers and improve their ability to coordinate the complex care of older patients. Remote-monitoring technologies can efficiently extend the reach of health care professionals into the home. ADL technologies can extend the independent functioning of older adults and reduce the demands placed on direct-care workers and informal caregivers.

Recommendation 6-1: Federal agencies (including the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services) should provide support for the development and promulgation of technological advancements that could enhance an individual’s capacity to provide care for older adults. This includes the use of ADL technologies and health information technologies, including remote technologies, that increase the efficiency and safety of care and caregiving.

CONCLUSION

The United States today faces enormous challenges as the baby boom generation nears retirement age. The impending crisis, which has been foreseen for decades, is now upon us. The nation needs to act now to prepare the health care workforce to meet the care needs of older adults. If current reimbursement policies and workforce trends continue, the nation will continue to fail to ensure that every older American is able to receive high-quality care. The dramatically rising number of older Americans, along with changes in their demographic characteristics, health needs, and settings of care will necessitate transformations related to the education, training, recruitment, and retention of the health care workforce serving older adults. This in turn will require the commitment of greater financial resources, even at a time when program budgets will already be severely stretched.

The committee asserts, however, that throwing more money into a system that is not designed to deliver high-quality, cost-effective care would be largely a wasted effort. Instead, this report serves as an appeal for fundamental reform in the way that care is delivered to older adults. In doing so, it provides a vision for how the workforce can best be developed and organized to improve its capacity to deliver the care that a new generation of older adults will soon be needing.



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