The San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency has hired Dr. Lindsey Yourman as its first chief geriatric officer to its medical care services department.
WHY IT MATTERS
The addition of a CGO is part of the county’s efforts to support its expanding population of older adults through its Aging Roadmap, which launched in 2019, according to county officials. By 2030, San Diego County’s older adult population is expected to surpass 900,000.
The road map is San Diego’s regional plan and framework for advancing care, support, affordable housing, accessible transportation and engagement opportunities for older adults.
In August, San Diego became the first county in the U.S. where every eligible nonmilitary hospital has earned geriatric emergency department accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Nick Macchione, HHSA director, added that the road map is having a positive effect across the region’s healthcare system and said that the time is right for creating leadership to support healthy aging in San Diego County.
“From transforming emergency departments and primary care clinics to building out behavioral health’s continuum of care and integrating experts on aging in our day-to-day work, the entire region is on its way to making San Diego County the national model for elderhood,” he said in a statement.
The road map includes actions like creating an inventory of technologies related to aging, disability and dementia that it would analyze, gather stakeholder feedback and then pilot-test.
The road map also prescribes GIS mapping of locations of older adults with disabilities for the county’s office of emergency services, drives innovation within the city’s Aging and Independence Services agency and suggests a number of actions to achieve goals across 10 focus areas.
Yourman, previously a UC San Diego Health geriatrician and the medical director of the geriatrics quality improvement program, launched the health system’s Age-Friendly Health System Initiative. As a result, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement recognized UCSD for becoming the first healthcare system in San Diego to join the national initiative, according to UCSD’s website.
She started as the county’s CGO last month and will work closely with the county’s aging and independence services agency. She will also support all HHSA departments serving older adults.
Janet Hamada Kelley, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter executive director, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that, given Yourman’s knowledge of geriatric medicine, she welcomed the role of a county CGO.
“Dr. Yourman’s focus on this population will allow organizations like us to better serve those with Alzheimer’s and dementia by identifying new ways to collaborate, reach and support the community,” she told the outlet.
THE LARGER TREND
While telehealth has increased older Americans’ access to care, there are still many pieces that need to be figured out – technologies, policies and processes – in order to improve healthcare access for this vulnerable population and others.
Dan Greenleaf, president and CEO of Modivcare, which facilitates nonemergency medical transportation, nutritional meal delivery, and personal and home care, told Healthcare IT News that what virtual care needs is partnership.
“There has to be collaboration and engagement across the healthcare spectrum and communities if we are going to make a difference,” he said, adding that collaboration “across payers, providers, tech leaders and community resources” can bridge gaps caused by social determinants of health such as aging.
Further, aging-in-place models of care require insights around social, behavioral and functional health – and then acting on them in real-time, said Ashish V. Shah, CEO of Dina, which offers an artificial intelligence platform for care at home.
When “delivering care at home and in the community, in order to match that experience and make it a smart one, you have to have great visibility and the ability to track everything,” he said.
ON THE RECORD
“The growth is even more rapid for the number of San Diegans 85 years of age and older, which will see its population grow 40% in the next eight years,” Macchione said in the county’s statement.
“The need is here, and we are excited to add Dr. Yourman to the team, which already includes a Child Health Officer,” he said.
Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.