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CVS Health releases Future of Healthy Aging report

The report found that older adults seeking health care have more confidence in their pharmacist (55%) and primary care provider (65%) than any other age group.

CVS Health released its Health Trends: Future of Healthy Aging report, which explores how health care will need to evolve to serve the growing needs of people aged 65 years old and older.

Among the key findings:

  • Older adults (aged 65 years old and older) seeking health care have more confidence in their pharmacist (55%) and primary care provider (65%) than any other age group.

  • As people age, they may experience physical challenges that could benefit from additional support, including:

    • Hearing (29%)

    • Vision (21%)

    • Cognition (28%)

    • Getting Around (39%)

    • Self-Care (8%)

In releasing the report, Sree Chaguturu, executive vice president and chief medical officer for CVS Health, said that serving Americans over age 65 years old will call for industry-wide innovation—and a sensitivity to how they want to receive their care.

“Life after age 65 represents a new chapter for many. And for the past few decades, Americans have been reinventing this phase of life. They are more active and engaged in their health than any previous generation, and medical advances have helped them live longer. As a result, the country is facing a milestone demographic moment, in which one in five people will be of retirement age by 2030. That, in itself, is a testament to modern health care," Chaguturu said.

Pointing out that an aging population calls for the healthcare system to perform at its very best, Chaguturu said that despite their relative health, three out of five people over age 65 years old manage two or more chronic conditions.

"They are more likely to spend time at hospitals and have more needs at the pharmacy counter. To serve older Americans means rethinking the tools we already have and innovating where new needs arise," Chaguturu said.

The Health Trends Report for spring 2023 examines how we can best serve people over 65:

  • What do the numbers tell us about this generation?

  • What changes and new priorities will best serve this group?

  • How can we support the mental health of older Americans?

  • What role will pharmacy and retail care play in the industry’s transformation?

“We have been preparing for this moment and, with the touchpoints we have, are uniquely positioned to support older adults. By building on a foundation of trust—the non-negotiable first step in any patient care—we can partner with them on their wellness journeys in a way that is compassionate, convenient and effective," Chaguturu said, noting that this transformation in health care will take many shapes.

Chaguturu provided MinuteClinic as an example, sharing that it has been steadily transitioning to offer age-friendly care. "We use an evidence-based framework that reviews and assesses current medications, mobility, mentation (mental health) and what matters ("the 4Ms") to those over 65 in terms of health goals and a treatment plan. At thousands of locations, when they come in for any health issue, they will be screened for the “4Ms.” Chaguturu also said that factors outside the clinic walls might be even more important to address. For instance, he said that social determinants of health are at the center of a national conversation and a primary concern for all practitioners.

"Our Health Zones project in Atlanta, for instance, helps seniors get access to transportation and medically-tailored meals. Since 1997, CVS Health and Aetna, a CVS Health company, have invested $1.2 billion in another determinant, affordable housing, in part to help older Americans stabilize their home lives and mitigate the financial strain that can worsen health issues," Chaguturu said.

Finally, Chaguturu said CVS would continue to find new ways to serve older Americans.

"Where they live in long-term care and assisted living facilities, we will find ways to make them safer, as we did when we delivered COVID-19 doses in long-term care facilities as part of a unique public health partnership. We will serve them at pharmacy counters in their neighborhoods and through new forms of virtual care, and we will find ways to help them age in place, receiving more care in their home environments. With integrity and heart, we continue to be a partner to people over 65 and provide the latest in health care that meets their needs, while helping the country move forward to embrace this unique demographic moment," Chaguturu concluded.

When it comes to one lesson from the past decade, it’s that older adults are absolutely willing to change how they receive care—if the benefits are worth the effort, CVS Health said in the report. "Retail health clinics offer a prime example. This channel has always been popular with younger people, with more than a third of millennials using it as their preferred form of provider visit. But patients over 65, who had been slow adopters, are now migrating to retail health care in record numbers and doubled their use in the years before the pandemic. Convenience is part of the reason."

“It’s challenging to get an appointment with a traditional primary care practice as it can sometimes take weeks or even months to get in to see a primary care provider," said David Fairchild, chief medical officer of retail health and senior vice president of CVS Health. In 2022, more than 650,000 patients aged 65 and older sought care at MinuteClinic.

Retail health care can also help with a larger, structural problem: About 13 million people in the United States live in primary care provider “deserts.” According to a 2021 report, one full-time primary care provider in these areas must serve more than 10,000 people—a caseload more than three times what’s recommended. And more than a third of U.S. residents face other kinds of health care shortfalls in their area. Retail and pharmacy providers can provide a lifeline and even flag health issues before they become critical, the report said.

"Medical problems can worsen in a hurry, particularly in older adults, if people wait too long to engage with a practitioner,” Fairchild said.

To read the full report, visit here. To check out highlights from the report, visit the infographic here.

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