Policy & LawPublic Health

Older Adults Not Getting Preventive Screenings

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A new report from agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say that critical gaps exist between older Americans who receive preventive services and those who do not.
Clinical prevention services examined in the report include:

A new report from agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say that critical gaps exist between older Americans who receive preventive services and those who do not.
Clinical prevention services examined in the report include:

  • vaccinations that protect against influenza and pneumococcal disease
  • screenings for the early detection of 
  • breast cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • diabetes
  • lipid disorders
  • osteoporosis
  • smoking cessation counseling
Challenges underlying these disparities are complex and reach beyond the traditional healthcare arena of patient-provider interactions. Older adults may not be aware of the services recommended for their age group or may not know that the services are covered by Medicare, the report said.
Some of the recommendations offered include: 
  • Reducing out-of-pocket costs.
  • Promoting annual wellness visits.
  • Issuing client reminders in the form of letters, postcards, or phone calls to alert adults that it is time for their cancer screening or vaccination.
  • Using “small media” to increase awareness of available services and convey messages about their benefits.
  • Tailoring messages, information, and services to meet the needs of each adult.
  • Issuing “standing orders” as a way to reduce missed opportunities at the point of care or in the physician’s office.
  • Reducing structural barriers that make it difficult for adults to make or keep their appointments – distance from a service location, limited hours of operation, caregiver responsibilities, or work commitments.
  • Expanding access beyond traditional health care settings to community sites and locations.
  • Offering multiple services in one location and at the same time for expedient “one- stop shopping.
Clearly the health care sector is being pushed to prevention and wellness and creating accountable care organizations and medical homes is good. But self-responsibility and education around the screening you need are important. Providers can help with timely reminders but you need to take charge as well.


Find the report here.
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