|This year's conference aimed to address the myriad |
of needs and concerns unique to caregivers.
Held once every 10 years, past conferences have attempted to plan and strategize for many of the problems that are now coming to a head in America. This year’s WHCOA aimed to meet current challenges by including a discussion of topics such as retirement security, ageing healthfully, elder abuse and justice, and long-term solutions for broader care. The conference also celebrated 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid, as well as 80 years of Social Security.
This year’s conference also aimed to address the myriad of needs and concerns unique to caregivers. The White House announced technological goals to help senior populations, including launching Aging.gov, a website aimed to service the needs of the elderly and their family, friends, and caretakers, as well as working in conjunction with the ReACT coalition, Care.com, and MIT. Furthermore, Medicare and Medicaid Services centers have released new information to support caregivers.
Many speakers were on hand to discuss the setbacks round-the-clock caregivers often encounter simply trying to survive at comfortable levels. Recognizing the importance of providing affordable health care, the Department of Labor issued a new statement regarding growing opportunities for caregivers and increased career paths. Furthermore, President Obama recently issued an executive order regarding workplace flexibility and work-life programs. Building upon provisions within the Affordable Care Act, caregivers are also entitled to more advanced health insurance options.
Taking into account the fact that our elderly population is expanding at an increasingly rapid rate, officials acknowledged the importance of making change to Medicare and Medicaid, while still continuing to provide quality service to patients. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced policy updates to Physician Fee Schedules and other payment policies, as well as modifications to the PQRS, or Physician Quality Reporting System, which would aid in rating care and finding top-rated caregivers and doctors. Further efforts to allow seniors to choose what type of care they wish to receive have also been implemented.
From a technological standpoint, this year’s White House Conference on Aging aimed to harness the power of social media outlets and websites to bring seniors, family, and caregivers closer to the action of the event. An additional focus on technology came from both the governmental side of the conference as well as private sector representatives on hand for discussions. The parties present discussed the role technology can play in seniors aging in place. Among ideas and topics covered were how to turn new technologies like fiber optic internet and 3D immersive computers into something seniors and their caregivers can effectively use as tools. The technology topic was tackled largely by LeadingAge, an association of companies who create, develop and sell digital tools for today’s older adults.
The conference went on to address the difficulties caregivers face while attempting to save for retirement when they might make less than $15,000 annually. Although only currently offering consolation and saving advice, many people attempted to address the issue of income inequality and limited savings initiatives, a dialogue which is essential for those who do not have access to a 401(k) at work.
While this year’s conference highlighted the baby-boomer problem, it also made an effort address the needs of the people entrusted to care for them. As the population continues to age, strong networks of familial support as well as professional caregiving services take on even great significance. As we focus our attention on aging seniors it’s important not to lose sight of the individuals who will bear the primary burden of their care in coming years.
Sadly, the medical community from clinics, healthcare systems, labs and hospitals continue to function as a Tower of Babel with many using different systems and rules regarding access to critical patient records. For example, most will not allow a patient to email them unless it is via a password protected portal which don’t allow attachments and severely limits the number of characters that may be included. Furthermore, they claim its due to HIPPA, yet HIPPA code clearly says that email is acceptable as long as both parties have taken appropriate precautions. All email today is secured via 128 bit secure socket layer. The big disconnect is that they prefer we send records back and fourth via fax or the U.S. mail. How is this more protected. And so, the expensive and terribly inefficient paper shuffle continues. If a doctor orders blood work, a patient who is paying for it can’t get access. It must come from the doctor. This is not right. In today’s healthcare system, consumers (patients) must become their everyday doctor by conducting significant research (if required) and always seeking a second or third opinion.
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