For many older adults, their primary care physician (PCP) is their main point of contact for addressing health issues. PCPs help their patients manage general health conditions, are familiar with their overall health history, and make referrals to specialists and additional services as needed.
Keiro recently sat down with Stacey Matsuura, MD and Paul Murata, MD about their experiences with Iyashi Care. Both are long-time primary care physicians serving the South Bay community.
Both doctors initially heard about Iyashi Care from Keiro staff several years ago. “I was generally aware of palliative care before. But when I learned about Iyashi Care and all the additional services it provides, I thought it could fill certain gaps in my patients’ care,” Dr. Matsuura shared.
Among their older Japanese patients, dementia, general frailty, and declining mobility are some of the most common conditions they see. “As people get older, they often have more health issues – which can be challenging to manage since it is sometimes unpredictable,” Dr. Matsuura said.
They also both noted the impact of social isolation on the health of older adults. Dr. Murata explained, “Some of my patients don’t have family or friends nearby who can regularly check in on them. They decline at home alone, and we only find out when something like a fall happens.”
Because Iyashi Care is a community-based program that supplements the care provided by the PCP, it is an excellent way to support patients in their homes – where a majority of older adults want to stay – according to Dr. Murata. The Iyashi Care team has assisted patients and their families with goals of care discussions, coordinating support services in the home, home safety assessments, and pain management, among others. Dr. Matsuura said the team’s Japanese language capabilities are especially important too, to ensure Japanese-speaking patients and families understand what is happening.
The Iyashi Care team provides an extra layer of support not only to the patients and their families, but to their primary care physicians as well. Dr. Murata explained that the team gets a different perspective from visiting patients at home, versus seeing them in a clinic setting. Their regular reports help him provide more comprehensive care, because they give further insight into the patient’s social and living situations and how those impact their health. “I appreciate any extra help I can get in better caring for my patients.”
Both doctors regularly recommend Iyashi Care to their older patients, as an added resource for them. Dr. Matsuura said, “The sooner patients and their families can access Iyashi Care, the better – including from when they are first diagnosed with an illness. The additional support can be very helpful in improving the patient’s quality of life.”