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First Oncology-Focused, Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community

March 28, 2023
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The U.S. population is aging. Those age 65 years and over account for 54.1 million people or 16 percent of the total population. This aging population is expected to grow exponentially in the future. More than two-fifths (or 41%) of the “baby boomer” generation are now age 65 years and over. Estimates show that by 2040, the U.S. population will increase among all racial and ethnic groups, who are age 65 years and over. 

In addition, approximately 80 percent of older adults are living with one chronic disease, and 68 percent have at least two chronic diseases to manage. Chronic diseases can make daily tasks, such as walking up the stairs or bathing, difficult, and they have the potential to create physical, emotional, and financial strain on individuals. Without proper care, chronic diseases can cause disproportionate harm, reducing quality of life and increasing healthcare service utilization.

The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC)—in partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)—developed the Oncology Action Community, which is helping participating cancer programs and practices in the implementation of the changes required for the IHI’s age-friendly health systems 4Ms (what matters, medication, mentation, and mobility) framework in a unit, clinic, emergency department, or program. This program’s results are anticipated to enhance care given to the older adults cancer programs and practices serve. 

Becoming an age-friendly health system entails redeploying existing health system resources to achieve:

  • Better health outcomes for older adults
  • Reduced waste associated with low-quality services
  • Increased utilization of cost-effective services for older adults
  • Improved health system reputation and market share.

Through a live, interactive action community with virtual presentations from age-friendly experts, ACCC brought sites together to share best practices and lessons learned while implementing the age-friendly health systems framework.  

The action community launched on September 13, 2022, and continued with monthly meetings. The group was trained on the 4Ms of the framework, and subsequent meetings addressed deep dives into implementation strategies into each “M”: what matters, medication, mentation, and mobility. Participants learned how to set an aim and were provided peer-to-peer coaching calls, where they could ask the experts additional questions as they worked to implement the 4Ms in their care settings. 

Hear from ACCC Action Community Members

“As a current geriatric medicine fellow, this course was incredibly helpful in teaching me how geriatric medicine principles can be applied in an oncology setting to improve patient care and satisfaction. Lessons from leaders in the field, who have firsthand experience establishing age-friendly care environments, provided proven strategies and allowed for efficient troubleshooting of obstacles on my own journey to ensure my clinic is age-friendly,” said Sam Sestito, MD, clinical fellow, Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Mary Pat Lynch, DNP, RN, AOCN, NEA-BC, administrator, Cancer Service Line at the Pennsylvania Hospital - Abramson Cancer Center, shared a similar sentiment, stating, “This has been a great experience for our program. We completed the hospital/LTC [long-term care] action community in 2019 as the only cancer program that was involved, but we decided to repeat the program when we saw that this action community was co-sponsored by ACCC and focused on ambulatory cancer programs. In addition, we had a lot of new staff who did not participate in 2019. It was a great learning experience for our new team. Thank you to both ACCC and IHI for the opportunity to participate.”

Learn more about the ACCC Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative online.

The ACCC Age-Friendly Health Systems education program is supported by the John A. Hartford Foundation.

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