Providing health care modulated on the specific needs of elderly for re-orienting national health systems toward a change of approach with patients. This should become the reference health strategy for the European Union, if it wants to achieve effective and efficient therapeutic goals, lowering costs while ensuring all appropriate health services, in particular when addressing the paramount issue of population progressive aging.
This is the strong message that emerges from the project SHELTER (http://lnx.starcomitaliaweb.eu/), a project coordinated by the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, in Rome where Prof. Bernabei brought together the best international experts in public assistance with the aim of harmonizing and testing a new tool for providing tailor-made health care to the elderly.
This tool is called Minimum Data Set (MDS), an instrument that allows to have a complete view not only of individual pathologies, but also of lifestyle, social environment and economic constraint of the elderly. The MDS is carried out by healthcare professionals (often specialized nurse) through a specific questionnaire that helps assessing, in a standardized way, the problems of the elderly.
SHELTER, so far, analyzed the geriatric health approach of several European countries, where health care is provided according to national protocols, often without taking into account the real needs of the elderly. The data obtained during this study will allow to draw guidelines to help health systems of the EU Member States identifying the most appropriate approaches to each single case.
"Producing health services in series is neither efficient nor effective for medical systems, especially when it comes to provide long-term care for the elderly," explains Prof. Bernabei.
"Instead, we must be comprehensive in taking into account the problems that elder people brings with them: not only diseases, but also socio-economic, familiar issues as well cognitive impairment that affect everyday life and medical treatments." An ineffective health care imposes higher costs on society than a personalized approach does.