Most Americans might be surprised to learn that falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for older adults in the U.S. And, according to the CDC, one of the most serious fall injuries is a broken hip, with more than 95 percent of hip fractures caused by falling.
Healthcare providers, however, are acutely aware of the danger of falls and the fact that their incidence will keep on rising as the population continues to age. Hip fractures are expected to double in number in the next 50 years. That’s bad news for older Americans who don’t have the same ability to recover from injury as those who are younger.
To try a new approach to caring for those with orthopedic injuries, Regions Hospital, a level 1 trauma center in St. Paul, Minn., began a Mobile Outreach Program, to bring orthopedic care directly to seniors. This, rather than transporting elderly patients to the hospital or clinic, which can be difficult and costly.
Comprehensive care, by a geriatric nurse practitioner, was given to the patients in transitional care units (rehab units), assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities. This method allowed the elderly to stay in a familiar environment and keep their usual schedule.
During 2016, the Mobile Outreach Program treated 458 patients at 88 different care facilities in a 30-mile radius of the hospital. The total number of visits was 689. Cost savings from this approach were estimated at $214,689, chiefly from transportation and service charges, avoided visits and avoidance of hospital and emergency room fees.
The preliminary results show that providing this type of care is achievable and can have an impact on older Americans’ care. Further study is needed to prove the efficacy of the service (whether care was improved), but this study provided the foundation for additional research.
 Mobile Outreach: An Innovative Program for Older Orthopedic Patients in Care Facilities, Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, 2019.