- Demonstrate more appropriate utilization of health care services leading to: a) increases in treatment of chronic conditions; b) decreases in acute episodes that result from inability to follow treatment plans; c) decreases in use of emergent and urgent care; and d) improvements in medication management;
- Increase healthcare providers’ knowledge of quality community resources available to patients and caregivers and ability to receive feedback on referred patients’ enrollment and attendance; and
- Increase the number of patients who have better understanding of their roles in prevention of negative health issues and their ability to maintain their health status at the highest level possible.
In recent years, more and more evidence has been published that establishes a link between health outcomes and the ability of patients and health providers to work in partnership to develop attainable and effective care plans. Partners in Aging Strategies and Training (PAST) has a bilateral approach in which we educate both healthcare professionals and consumers (patients, caregivers, family members). Our theory is that health outcomes are attained by teaching healthcare providers and consumers how to engage better with each other, especially when consumers use the skills learned in community-based programs, such as self-management and healthy lifestyle choices. PAST teaches patients ways to optimize use of health care services in conjunction with their health management plans. This will lead to improved health outcomes of older adults in Michigan thus reducing costs.
The PAST activities provide an integrated educational program with the overarching goal of creating opportunities for healthcare providers and older adult patients, their families and caregivers to learn skills and techniques they can use to enhance their ability to form productive patient-provider partnerships. We use three types of training: 1) multi-disciplinary health professions and primary care provider continuing-education face-to-face workshops and webinars; 2) regional symposia that bring aging network providers together that address topics such as dementia service funding and policy, service continuum gaps, innovative practices; dementia research being conducted in Michigan; 3) older adult patient and caregiver presentations, workshops, resource materials, and opportunities to participate in clinical trials.
A key component of our design is the menu of research- and evidence-based programs coordinated by Michigan State University Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute. Examples of offerings are: Powerful Tools for Caregivers, PATH (Personal Action Toward Health) for Chronic Conditions, PATH for Diabetes and PATH for Chronic Pain. These are the Stanford Medical’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs (CDSMP) and are all six-week participant workshops. The National Diabetes Prevention Program and A Matter of Balance will be available, as well as a five-week participant workshop titled Stress Less with Mindfulness. Dining with Diabetes, a five-session workshop for people with diabetes and their family members, are provided. All of these workshops will be offered on an ongoing basis so individuals referred are able to join a workshop without a long wait.
PAST strengthens workforce capacity through developing and conducting continuing education training for healthcare professionals (HCP). We introduce the concepts of patient self-management and teach them how to integrate the tools participants acquire in self-management education (SME) into their practice protocols. HCPs learn practical ways to assess, engage, activate, and refer their older adult patients to SME and other community-based resources as well as how to effectively incorporate what patients learn into their health goals and plans. This increases the number of HCPs who have skills needed to provide quality care for their older patients and their caregivers. Healthcare professionals can earn a Certificate of Completion when they finish a specified number of training hours. Our partnership with the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center deepens our expertise and expands the number of trainers and trainees.
Much of the patients’ understanding of their ability to take control of their conditions takes place outside of traditional medical practice through resources such as evidence-based self-management education, nutrition and exercise education, learning coping and stress reduction techniques as well as patients’ awareness of available community-based supports and services.
PAST employs an original model by using Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) Health Educators as the core of our interdisciplinary training team. MSUE is one of the inaugural members of the Michigan Partners on the PATH (Personal Action Toward Health), a statewide partnership founded in 2005 to build a system for coordinating, implementing, and expanding self-management education in Michigan. This model is being watched by other Extension Services across the US as well as the National Council on Aging Center for Healthy Living with an eye on its replicability in other states.
Through PAST trainings, consumers and providers of health care services learn more effective ways to communicate with each other. This will result in health management plans that the patient is able to follow that address health.