By the year 2030, one in five Americans will be older than 65, thereby increasing the need for professionals with a public health degree or health services degree who are able to create and implement new healthcare programs to meet the needs of our senior population.

Can Bundled Patient Care Initiatives Improve Senior Health?We’ve known for decades that the dynamics of America’s senior population—those aged 65 and older— would be changing. By the time the ‘baby boom’ finally tapered off in 1964, there were 76.4 million young Americans lined up to one day become our nation’s largest population of senior citizens. Adding in the fact that life expectancies have increased, it is predicted that by 2030 about one in five Americans will be older than 65. These circumstances have not only created a greater need for professionals who hold a public health degree or a health services degree, but they have also heightened the demand for new and creative healthcare initiatives to help keep our growing population of seniors healthy. Among them is Bundled Patient Care, or what the industry often refers to as BPCI.

The Bundled Patient Care initiative for seniors is on the rise, with the goal of driving improved quality of care and reduced costs for those Medicare patients who qualify. “Bundled Patient Care is a proactive approach to care where we act as a care coordinator for the patient, helping them navigate through the care continuum and learn how to manage their health care plan so they don’t end up back at the hospital time and time again,” says Dr. Cheryl B. Cullen, a Walden University School of Health Sciences faculty member and clinical program manager at Remedy Partners, a Connecticut based patient care company.

For many providers, care begins when a patient is admitted into a hospital’s acute care unit and continues for 90 days after they are discharged. The patient is assigned a patient care coordinator who assesses the needs of the patient and then works as an advocate on their behalf. Often an RN who holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the care coordinator establishes a 90-day care plan, helps to ensure the patient understands their discharge instructions, schedules and attends follow-up appointments, receives their prescriptions, understands test results, and more. Specialized software provides improved patient data by tying together information from all of the patient’s doctors, caregivers, and pharmacies which ultimately leads to a better understanding of care for the patient and their family and reduces the number of unnecessary or repeat tests and doctor visits. On a more personal note, the patient care coordinator helps remove any obstacles that might prevent a successful patient recovery such as arranging transportation to doctor’s appointments, finding pharmacies that deliver, or even helping the patient locate affordable medical products they might need for recovery.

Patient care companies are contracted through Medicare to administer their programs. When asked about the level of care from the standpoint of the provider, Dr. Cullen said, “We’re always going to manage to the care needs of the patient, as opposed to the level of patient’s insurance benefit. And in doing so, what we’ve realized is that when we improve quality, we reduce costs.” Dr. Cullen notes that the benefits of Bundled Patient Care for the patient are realized in five main categories:

  • Improved quality of care
  • Reduction in hospital readmission
  • Reduction in the length of stay at a skilled nursing facility
  • Connection to community support
  • Increased patient compliance with physician follow-up

The historically large population of American senior citizens has shed a new light on our country’s healthcare and as a result, the need for accomplished, degreed professionals is increasing. An online health sciences degree or online public health degree can prepare you to pursue opportunities in the growing fields of public health and health services. Walden University’s College of Health Sciences offers three doctoral degrees for individuals interested in careers that are focused on healthcare in both the private and public sectors: a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), a PhD in Public Health, and a PhD in Health Services. For those interested in earning a master’s in healthcare administration (MHA), MS in Health Education and Promotion, or a Master of Public Health (MPH), Walden’s online programs offer the relevant curriculum you need to excel in this exciting field. Those seeking a bachelor’s degree may be interested in considering Walden’s Bachelor of Science in Public Health, Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management, Bachelor of Science in Health Studies or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

In addition to her role as a clinical program manager at Remedy Partners, Dr. Cheryl B. Cullen is a Walden University faculty member in the School of Health Sciences. Dr. Cullen mentors Walden PhD students and teaches Introduction to Healthcare Management and Ethical and Legal Issues in Healthcare. She was recently named a Citizen of the Year by the Lakeland Hills YMCA in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey.

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