The Future Health Care Workforce for Older Americans

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Aging, Health Care Workforce, Health Services, Coverage, and Access, Public Health, Quality and Patient Safety, Select Populations and Health Equity
Board: Board on Health Care Services

Activity Description

The final report written by this committee, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, was released in April 2008 and can be accessed at

Beginning in 2007, the Institute of Medicine undertook a consensus study to characterize the optimal healthcare workforce for older Americans in an aging society. This study sought to determine the healthcare needs of the target population--the rapidly growing and increasingly diverse population of Americans who are over 65 years of age--then addressed those needs through a thorough analysis of the forces that shape the health care workforce, including education, training, modes of practice, and financing of public and private programs. 

The IOM impanelled an ad hoc committee of 15 experts who met over a period of 15 months.  Starting with the understanding that health care services provided to older Americans should be safe, effective, patient centered, timely, efficient, and equitable, the committee considered the following questions:

  1. What is the projected future health status and health care services utilization of older Americans?
  2. What is the best use of the health care workforce, including, where possible, informal caregivers, to meet the needs of the older population?  What models of health care delivery hold promise to provide high quality and cost-effective care for older persons?  What new roles and/or new types of providers would be required under these models? 
  3. How should the health care workforce be educated and trained to deliver high-value care to the elderly?  How should this training be financed?  What will best facilitate recruitment and retention of this workforce? 
  4. How can public programs (e.g. Medicare and Medicaid) be improved to accomplish the goals identified above?

Sponsorship for this project has been provided by:

  • The John A. Hartford Foundation
  • The Atlantic Philanthropies
  • The Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • The Retirement Research Foundation
  • The California Endowment
  • The Archstone Foundation
  • The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
  • The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation
  • The Commonwealth Fund

The report released on 04/11/2008.

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