If the care received by vulnerable older people concurrently enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid was evaluated on a grading scale, it would squeak by with a barely passing mark, a new UCLA study has found.
Using quality-of-care measurements developed by the Assessing Care of Vulnerable Elders (ACOVE) project, researchers found that vulnerable elderly patients received only 65 percent of the tests and other diagnostic evaluations and treatments recommended for a variety of illnesses and conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. The study findings appear in the October issue of the peer-reviewed journal Medical Care.
"Thirty-five percent of the medical care interventions that they should have received were not provided, indicating significant room for improvement," said lead author Dr. David S. Zingmond, assistant professor of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We'd much rather have everything higher say, at least 90 percent."
The researchers based their work on linked Medicare and Medicaid claims data something that is not routinely done.
"Going forward, measures like these will be increasingly important because more detailed health care information, such as electronic health records, are difficult to obtain," Zingmond said.
The researchers gathered data from 100,258 community-dwelling geriatric patients in 19 California counties between 1999 and 2000. All the patients were enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. The mean age of participants was 81, 70 percent were women, 45 percent were non-Hispanic whites, 26 percent were Asian, 9 percent were African American, 13 percent were Hispanic and 7 percent were of unknown race or ethnicity. "Vulnerable elders" are defined as geriatric patients who are at increased risk of death or functional decline.
Using linked Medicare and Medicaid data from the California Center for Long Term Care Integ
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University of California - Los Angeles