Over a period of two months in 1988 and 1989 general practitioners in the Norwegian county of Møre and Romsdal recorded all contacts with their patients. Participation was close to 100%. We report data from 10,850 surgery consultations with elderly patients (65 years and older). 60% of the consultations involved female patients, and 58% of the patients were 65-74 years old. New diagnoses were made in one-third of the cases; two-thirds were follow-ups. The most common groups of diagnoses were cardiovascular (28%), musculoskeletal (13%), psychiatric (8%) and respiratory diseases (8%). Almost 10% of all consultations were for hypertension. Drugs were prescribed in 45% of all cases. 27% of all prescriptions were for cardiovascular drugs, and 25% were for drugs for the nervous system. The 20 most common diagnoses made up more than half of the total number of diagnoses. Almost 70% of all prescriptions were for the ten most common therapeutic groups.
Over a period of two months in 1988 and 1989 all general practitioners in the Norwegian county of Møre and Romsdal recorded all contacts with their patients. We report data from 1,384 house calls to elderly patients (65 years and older). House calls made up 11.3% of all face-to-face contacts between general practitioners and elderly patients. 59% of the visits were to female patients, and 60% were to patients 75 years and older. 23% of the house calls took place during weekends, and new diagnoses were made in 58% of the cases. The most common groups of diagnoses were cardiovascular (21%), respiratory (16%), and musculoskeletal diseases (13%). Drugs were prescribed for 42% of the house calls. 28% of all drugs prescribed were for the nervous system, while 26% were antibiotics for systemic use. Most house calls were made because of acute illnesses. Our results suggest that preventive home visits to the elderly are rarely, if ever, performed in general practice.
Abdominal symptoms are frequent in the normal elderly population, but only a minority contact doctors. The present study was performed to assess the impact of abdominal symptoms on primary health care and medicine consumption and, in addition, to describe factors that relate to resource consumption. A postal questionnaire was mailed to a random cohort of 859 Danish people at the age of 75. Seventy-nine percent returned the questionnaire. A total of 31% of the men and 42% of the women had experienced at least one abdominal symptom within the past year. Among these 25% had visited a doctor and a little less had taken medicine. The total expenses used on primary health care and medicine were 22,000 U.S. Dollars per 1000 persons. Factors related to visiting a doctor were not only the presence of symptoms but also the subject's concept of the symptom as a health problem. As a consequence, efforts to control expenses should also focus on why some subjects consider their symptoms a health-problem while others do not.
The proportion of older persons is increasing in developed and developing countries: this aging trend can be viewed as a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it represents remarkable successes regarding advances in health care; and on the other hand, it represents a considerable challenge for health systems to meet growing demand. A growing disequilibrium between supply and demand may be particularly challenging within publicly funding health systems that 'guarantee' services to eligible populations. Rehabilitation, including physical therapy, is a service that if provided in a timely manner, can maximize function and mobility for older persons, which may in turn optimize efficiency and effectiveness of overall health care systems. However, physical therapy services are not considered an insured service under the legislative framework of the Canadian health system, and as such, a complex public/private mix of funding and delivery has emerged. In this article, we explore the consequences of a public/private mix of physical therapy on timely access to services, and use the World Health Organization (WHO) health system performance framework to assess the extent to which the emerging system influences the goal of aggregated and equitable health. Overall, we argue that a shift to a public/private mix may not have positive influences at the population level, and that innovative approaches to deliver services would be desirable to strengthening rather than weaken the publicly funded system. We signal that strategies aimed at scaling up rehabilitation interventions are required in order to improve health outcomes in an evolving global aging society.
As the proportion of older adults increases within the Canadian population, healthcare systems across the country are facing increased demands for home-based services, including home care nursing, rehabilitation, case management, adult day programs, respite, meal programs and home support. Home support is one of the core care services required in the community to enable older adults to remain at home as long as possible. In 2006, Vancouver Community introduced a new home support delivery and performance management model: the Accountability, Responsiveness and Quality for Clients Model of Home Support (ARQ Model) (VCH 2006). The main components of the ARQ Model are an expanded use of "cluster care" along with stable monthly funding for high-density buildings and neighbourhoods; the introduction of specific monthly and quarterly quality performance reporting; and the implementation of performance-based funding for home support. This article discusses the setup of the ARQ model, its ongoing evaluation and results achieved thus far.