As any long-term care consultant knows, the elderly require a significant amount of work to take care and manage their health throughout their retirement. The golden years are often fraught with medical complications, as more elderly patients are likely to have heart disease, cancer or dementia.
As the baby boomer population ages and the individual mandate goes into effect in 2014, the number of patients will only increase and medical providers will need to handle the load. Many seniors are also taking medications regularly and the management of their prescribed drugs can become difficult for caregivers.
American Medical News reported that more than half of a million Medicare patients end up at the hospital for preventable drug-related problems on an annual basis. Also, medication errors occur due to poor packaging and insufficient instructions.
The Institute of Medicine recommends increasing the use of e-prescribing systems, as this software can streamline the prescription process and increase drug safety since it alerts physicians of any possible negative drug reactions or patient allergies.
"In the last decade or so, we've not made tremendous measurable progress by focusing on broad approaches to medication safety," the doctor and researcher Daniel Budnitz told the news source. "Now it may be time to try an alternative approach that focuses on a few of the big players in terms of patient harm, and focusing on older folks who have even higher rates of harm."
Support with clinical decision-making and medication reconciliation is also recommended by the Institute of Medicine.
Healthcare providers that need help ensuring the safety of their elderly patients would be wise to work with a long-term care consultant who has vast experience with healthcare IT consulting and medication management.