Two Clinics Join Age-Friendly Health Systems, a Nationwide Movement to Improve Health Care for Older Adults

In January 2021, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) recognized M Health Fairview Clinic - Smiley's and University of Minnesota's Community-University Health Care Center (CUHCC) as Age-Friendly Health System Participants. Age-Friendly Health Systems is a nationwide movement to improve health care for older adults. The Age-Friendly Health System is an initiative of IHI, the John A. Hartford Foundation, American Hospital Association, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States; it includes 831​ hospitals and health care practices.

Two primary care clinics are leading this initiative to become Age-Friendly: CUHCC and M Health Fairview Clinic - Smiley's. CUHCC is a community health center that provides primary care services to low-income families in South Minneapolis. Smiley's provides a full range of primary care services. These two clinics joined the Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community in 2019 and have been piloting clinical transformation to align with the principles of Age-Friendly Health Systems as part of Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (MN Northstar GWEP), a federally funded workforce training award, while using evidence to promote best practices and training for the geriatric workforce.

"With this recognition from IHI, Minnesota Northstar GWEP has made significant strides toward achieving one of our key goals, which is to transform our primary care clinics for Age-Friendly care and learning," says Jim Pacala, MD, MS, department head, UMN Family Medicine and Community Health, and project lead for MN Northstar GWEP.

By designing smart phrases in the electronic medical record for primary care clinics, the Age-Friendly clinical transformation team has developed a streamlined way for clinicians to talk with patients about their goals in the four categories of an Age-Friendly Health System: What Matters, Medication, Mentation (dementia/depression), and Mobility.

Ultimately, the plan is to transform all 56 community clinics in the M Health Fairview system's Primary Care Service Line by the end of the fifth year of the grant in order to provide high-quality, Age-Friendly primary care to older adults in the state.

Age-Friendly Health ​Systems are committed to building a social movement so all care with older adults is Age-Friendly care:

  • Guided by an essential set of evidence-based practices (4Ms);
  • Causes no harms; and
  • Is consistent with What Matters to the older adult and their family.

Learn more about the various projects within the Minnesota Northstar GWEP and follow on Twitter.

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