CenterWell is Senior-Focused Health Care

By Gregory Lavins, MD | CenterWell Senior Primary Care Roxboro

Spring 2024 | Living Power Magazine

Gregory Lavins

I care for a patient who is a lifelong smoker and never had a lung cancer screening, fearing that the screening would lead to unexpected bills and hospital charges. I spent a great deal of time with her, explaining the importance of the screening and collaborating with my care team to ensure a smooth process and cost transparency. As a result, we discovered a small lung cancer in its early and treatable stage. Having that time and those meaningful conversations prevented further progression of a potentially fatal disease. That’s a level of care I’m proud of and for which my patients are grateful.

This is possible, thanks to the senior-focused care model at CenterWell Senior Primary Care where I practice medicine.

America is a rapidly aging nation. By 2034, there will be an estimated 77 million Americans aged 65 years or older. For the first time in the country’s history, older adults will outnumber children. It’s the same in North Carolina, where we are 8th in the United States in number of people 65 and older. In 2020, one in six North Carolinians was 65 and older, and by 2031, there will be more people 65 and older in our state than children.

As our older population grows, so do their age-related medical needs, which necessitates a new approach to health care.

CenterWell Senior Primary Care is Value-Based Care

CenterWell Senior Primary Care’s value-based care model is whole-person health care that emphasizes quality of care and health improvements. This plus our focus on preventive care to get and keep patients as healthy as possible is shown to reduce hospitalizations and emergency room visits for seniors.

CenterWell physicians are specially trained to treat seniors and work as part of a multidisciplinary team that includes social workers, pharmacists, nurse care coordinators, referral coordinators, and behavioral health specialists, who together help care for the patient’s physical and mental health.

It’s a comprehensive, team-based approach that not only treats the patient’s medical needs, but also the underlying issues affecting their health. While today’s seniors enjoy longer, more independent lives, most are living with multiple chronic health conditions. Nearly 80% of older adults have two or more ongoing health problems and almost all take a prescription drug, with nearly 40% regularly using five different medications.

Giving seniors the time and attention they deserve

CenterWell Senior Primary Care’s centers give doctors more time to spend with patients—up to 50% more time than typical providers. Getting to the root causes of patients’ individual situations often requires time to engage and reach a level of comfort where they are able to share and open up about the challenges they face.

CenterWell’s care team model empowers us to tackle the everyday challenges our patients encounter. It prioritizes the personal interactions between physicians and patients that enable us to build trusting relationships. Because I have extra time with patients, I’m able to understand them on a deeper level and tailor care to their unique needs. This personalized approach fosters better patient engagement and, ultimately, leads to more successful outcomes.

Providing more than medical care

Centerwell front desk

Addressing senior health also requires examining emotional concerns and socioeconomic factors. For older patients, attending to basic everyday needs and emotional concerns can be just as vital as treating their medical conditions. In fact, there’s strong evidence that people’s financial resources and living environment have even more of an impact on the state of their health than the medical treatment they receive. That’s especially true for older adults who live on a fixed income and have multiple health problems.

The care teams at CenterWell work to address any socioeconomic factors that may be impacting seniors’ wellbeing, including emotional, cognitive, and nutritional issues, as well as physical limitations.

There are more than 16.5 million American seniors who struggle financially, and many are food insecure. This unfortunate reality increases their risk for a number of serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. To improve the lives of older adults, it’s imperative we address these social determinants of health, such as food or housing insecurity and lack of access to transportation, along with mental health concerns.

The combination of these factors can add up to a complicated health picture requiring the kind of personalized medical care that we offer at CenterWell Senior Primary Care. Senior-focused primary care is CenterWell’s approach to providing the health care that seniors need to help them lead their healthiest lives possible. It’s what made all the difference for my patient with lung cancer.

Centerwell team