Alzheimer’s Association Initiative Seeks to Improve Dementia Care While Lowering Costs

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Alzheimer’s Association (AA) has launched an initiative to help U.S. health systems and clinicians enhance dementia care, and do so more cost-effectively.

The non-profit organization is seeking to partner with some 300 health systems nationally to offer solutions for improving health outcomes among patients with Alzheimer’s (AD) and other dementias, while reducing system costs along the way. Alzheimer’s is the United States’ most expensive disease, according to AA.

“When dementia care is not managed well, or not at all, health outcomes are much worse and the costs are much higher,” Joanne Pike, DrPH, the association’s chief program officer, said in a press release. “By working with health systems, we aim to improve both sides of the equation, where people living with dementia get timely, high-quality care and the cost to the system is lower.”

The organization has hired 21 regional health systems directors to help raise awareness and utilization of AA resources, tools, and diagnosis and care training. To learn how the Alzheimer’s Association can support clinicians throughout the disease continuum, the directors will solicit regular feedback.

“Our work with health systems and clinicians is two-fold,” Pike said. “We want to support providers with strategies and solutions that can ensure quality care for people living with dementia, but we also want to better understand the needs of providers, so we can be an asset in helping them meet the complex care needs of individuals and families affected.”

Specifically, the initiative aims to improve health outcomes through the facilitation of timely and accurate diagnoses, improved care management, and the prevention of disease complications among older patients. Another goal is to enhance patients’ and caregivers’ clinical experiences. That includes communication that helps individuals and families make constructive decisions about issues such as finances or clinical trial participation.

In addition, the effort seeks to reduce the burden on clinicians through an interdisciplinary approach that optimizes the role of each healthcare team member. That includes making sure clinicians have the training, resources, and support to diagnose dementia patients and provide follow-up care.

Through strategies designed to reduce the frequency of unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department visits, the initiative also seeks to help manage care costs. This year, the cost of care for U.S. patients with AD or other dementia is projected to exceed $290 billion, the organization said.

“Dementia care is complex and expensive,” Pike said. “There are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is rising. We want to work with health systems and clinicians to meet this growing demand by ensuring people living with dementia have high-quality, patient-centered care, and that their care is managed efficiently and cost-effectively.”

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