Ageism a ‘Systemic’ Issue Healthcare Leaders Must Address
ATLANTA, October 7, 2020 – Ageism in healthcare is a pervasive problem that has been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Arif Nazir, MD, FACP, chief medical officer of Signature HealthCARE and keynote speaker at Net Health’s annual Optima Summit Virtual Event.
In his keynote presentation, “Healthcare Leadership in the COVID Era,” Dr. Nazir said the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated serious issues in healthcare quality and related policies, including discrimination against the elderly.
“These disparities, particularly ageism, require urgent attention,” he maintained. “Ageism is something our industry has not paid attention to. Everyone needs to be more aware of the systemic bias against age and its implications for our industry and society.”
Dr. Nazir cited disturbing ageism examples and statistics:
- 82% of Americans over age 50 claim they are facing prejudice.
- Ageist messages highlighting seniors’ tech limitations, facial features, and lack of abilities are pervasive in the media.
- Excess health care spending due to ageism total over $60 billion a year.1
Josh Pickus, Chief Executive Officer of Net Health, who opened the Summit, also put the spotlight on ageism, calling it one of the most pressing challenges facing post-acute care providers.
“Ageism is a problem that’s gone unrecognized and unaddressed far too long,” Pickus said. “Our industry has the expertise to lead a national conversation on this issue, and we must seize the opportunity.”
To counter entrenched ageism in healthcare, Dr. Nazir stressed that widespread change is necessary, from research to patient care. “We need the right education, training and policies in place to address ageism,” he said.
Ageism in healthcare is an extension of society’s often-dismissive attitude toward older people, Dr. Nazir said. During the pandemic, ageism has ranged from hospitals using age as a criterium for providing care to people on social media joking about COVID as a “boomer remover.”
As a result of this societal bias, the post-acute care industry is undervalued and underfunded, he adds.
A ‘new normal’ defined by empathy and action
Dr. Nazir’s keynote also focused broadly on the need for “true and agile” leadership from the top echelons down in both the current pandemic and the post-COVID world. The blame-riddled national response to the pandemic to date is a policy failure, he said, and should be replaced by compassionate and transparent communication.
For leaders in the post-acute industry, he said, an effective response to the pandemic must include embracing innovations, particularly process improvements, protecting and supporting the “deeply impacted” front-line teams emotionally and financially, and resolving inequities of all kinds.
“The need is great, and the time has come to embrace engaged and empathetic leadership to create the ‘new normal’ of post-acute healthcare,” Dr. Nazir concluded.
More Information about The Optima Summit
The Optima Summit is an annual conference for Optima Therapy customers, who are skilled nursing facility (SNF) operators and contract therapy companies who partner with them. This year the Optima Summit it is being held virtually Oct 6 to 7. The event provides industry education through thought leadership presentations and panels on relevant topics, as well as product updates and demonstrations. For more information, visit 2020 Optima Summit Virtual Event.
About Net Health
Net Health is reuniting caregivers with their calling through cloud-based software for specialty medical providers across the continuum of care. Net Health’s interoperable EHRs deliver end-to-end solutions that ensure compliance, improve outcomes, empower providers and inspire care. The company serves over 14,000 facilities, including 98 percent of the largest hospital chains, two-thirds of skilled nursing facilities, and many leading hospice organizations and private practices. Net Health is a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group, Level Equity, and Silversmith Capital Partners. www.nethealth.com.
1Becca R Levy, PhD, et al. Ageism Amplifies Cost and Prevalence of Health Conditions, The Gerontologist, Volume 60, Issue 1, February 2020, Pages 174–181