KPMAS Strives to Keep Older Adults on Their Feet and Catch Them Before They Fall


The CDC estimates that more than 1 out of 4 older adults will fall each year, but less than half will tell their doctor. The good news is that falling is not a normal part of aging. In fact, most falls can be prevented by screening and follow up interventions.

To address this risk for our older adults, KPMAS is launching an annual fall risk screening for patients 65 and older across four departments the week of Feb 18, 2019: Adult and Family Medicine, Orthopedics, Podiatry, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. The fall risk screening will also deploy in Neurology later this year.

Once each year, patients who are seen in these departments will be asked 3 key questions that come from the CDC’s STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) tool. Based upon those responses a mobility and gait test called the TUG (Timed Up and Go) may be prompted to stratify patients as low, moderate or high risk for falling.

  • The provider will receive the risk level alert and determine appropriate interventions, including:
  • Review of medications to identify interactions that may affect balance
  • A vision or foot check may be recommended
  • Referral to PT/OT to improve mobility, strength and balance
  • A home safety checklist will be given along with ordering the Fall Prevention and Home Safety EMMI®
  • Registration in the Find Your Balance – fall prevention class through Physical Therapy may be suggested
  • Registration in the Strength and Balance fitness classes offered by Regional Health Education may be recommended

This workflow was piloted throughout 2018 and we are now confident in rolling the screening out across the region. We are sincerely grateful to the health care teams who supported this work at the following locations:

  • Reston Adult and Family Medicine (launched March 2018)
  • Gaithersburg Orthopedics (launched June 2018)
  • Gaithersburg Podiatry (launched July 2018)
  • Towson Neurology (launched October 2018)
  • GBMC Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (launched October 2018)

This initiative has been led by Dr. E.W. Emanuel, Associate Medical Director, Health Education, Health Promotion, Dr. Mona Gahunia, Associate Medical Director, Primary Care Strategy, and Dr. Maurice Cates, Regional Medical Director, Musculoskeletal Service Line. KPMAS will be the first region to systematically implement this annual fall risk screening for members 65 and older across the program.

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