WRHS continues participation in national ‘Age-Friendly Health System’ initiative


White River Health System (WRHS) continues its participation in a movement to become an “Age-Friendly Health System,” according to a press release from WRHS. 

As an Age-Friendly Health System, WRHS has adopted a framework focused on the unique care needs of older adults.

According to the American Hospital Association, there are more than 46 million Americans age 65 and over, and that number is projected to double to more than 98 million by 2060. Many older adults have more than one complex healthcare needs and take multiple medications.

As part of the Age-Friendly Health Systems’ initiative, The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States, are helping hospitals and other care settings implement a set of evidence-based interventions specifically designed to improve care for older adults.

The interventions can be tested and adapted by participating in what are called Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Communities. These are collaborative entities comprised of healthcare teams from all over the country who are committed to sharing data and learning together. All teams strive toward reliably implementing best practices across emergency departments, intensive care units, medical-surgical units, general wards, and primary and specialty care settings.

The initiative is based on a series of practices focused on addressing four essential elements of care for older patients: What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility. 

The movement grew by 86 percent in 2020 and contributed to the initiative beating its participation goals by 50 percent.  The progression shows the many health systems working to make care for older adults even more tailored to patients’ goals and preferences and consistently of high-quality. The goal of the initiative is to implement the framework into 20 percent of U.S. hospitals and health systems becoming age-friendly by 2020.

“WRHS is focused on creating a better environment for patient care, and we are eager to continue in this vital effort. We look forward to both sharing our best practices and learning what’s working for others,” said Gary Paxson, president and CEO of White River Health System. “The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative is an important part of our overarching vision to improve the health of patients at every stage in life.”

The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative was launched in 2017 by The John A. Hartford Foundation and IHI with a commitment to make 20 percent of hospitals and health systems in the United States age-friendly by 2020. For more information, visit ihi.org/agefriendly.

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