Senior Health

Sutter Health Research Projects on Patient-Centered Care Receive National Awards

 Palo Alto, Calif., (Feb. 13, 2017) – The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) based in Washington, D.C., recently awarded funding to a study at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI) on improving communication between patients and primary care doctors, and to a PAMF project aimed at improving preventive care for seniors.

A study led by Ming Tai-Seale, Ph.D., MPH, associate director of PAMFRI, received $5.8 million to assess the effectiveness of three different approaches to enhancing patient-doctor communication in a primary care setting.

“We want to enable patients to have a voice in their care from the beginning,” said Dr. Tai-Seale. “This project encourages patients to be better prepared and to engage in shared decision making so that they will get more out of their visit. And it will help doctors and patients choose the best treatment plan for the patient.’’

Dr. Ming Tai-Seale at a conference held by Health Affairs, a leading policy journal.

Dr. Ming Tai-Seale at a conference held by Health Affairs, a leading policy journal.

An award for $50,000 went to the Guzik Family Center for Geriatrics and Palliative Care at PAMF to advance the Fostering Successful Aging project. Established in 2014, Fostering Successful Aging has received funding from PCORI for three consecutive years. The project’s goal is to engage older people, the medical community, researchers and other stakeholders in studying effective strategies to help seniors maintain their health and independence for as long as possible.

“This work focuses attention on value-based preventive care for seniors by discovering how patients can help contribute meaningfully to improving care for seniors both now and in the future,” said Peter H. Cheng, M.D., founder of the project and leader of geriatric medicine at PAMF’s Guzik Center.

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PAMF and Avenidas to Host Successful Aging Celebration on August 16


On August 16, 2014, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) and Avenidas will host a public celebration to honor seniors – bringing together resources and organizations to help seniors “age in place.” The Successful Aging Celebration, hosted for the third year, will take place at PAMF’s Palo Alto Center.

“The aging journey brings with it thrills and challenges,” said Peter H. Cheng, M.D., chief of PAMF’s Palo Alto Center Geriatric Medicine Program and co-founder of the annual event. “The Successful Aging Celebration is a way for PAMF to give back to older adults. We’ll celebrate aging by honoring the achievements of seniors and highlighting the synergistic work that PAMF does with the community – and have a grand time together.”

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PAMF Geriatric Shared Medical Appointments Program Selected for PCORI “Pipeline to Proposal” Award

Innovative Program Supports Successful Aging

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Successful Aging Shared Medical Appointments (SMA) Program has received a national award from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  It was one of only 30 projects in the western United States chosen for the inaugural “Pipeline to Proposal” awards program, designed to “advance the field of patient- and stakeholder-driven health research,” said Anne Beal, M.D., MPH, PCORI’s deputy executive director and chief officer for engagement.

PAMF’s Successful Aging SMA program is the first of its kind in the nation. In this innovative program, adults ages 65 and older have 90-minute medical appointments in small groups, where they receive private, individual health assessments and participate in health discussions led by a doctor.

Dr. Cheng leads a Successful Aging Shared Medical Appointment with PAMF patients.

Dr. Cheng leads a Successful Aging Shared Medical Appointment with PAMF patients.

PAMF Regional Medical Director Susan Smith, M.D., believes there are distinct benefits to older patients who participate in this unique care model. “They get ample and dedicated time with a geriatrician, a physician who specializes in aging, and they do so in the company of fellow seniors, forming a natural support group,” she says. “The SMA empowers patients to make personalized decisions with their health care team.”

Through the Successful Aging Shared Medical Appointment program, “Our patients receive personalized evaluations, learn from one another, and work with us to develop preventive and proactive approaches to aging,” said SMA Nurse Care Manager Kelly Reilly, RN.

“This award provides us an exciting opportunity to further refine our program and define its future,” said Peter H. Cheng, M.D., chief of PAMF’s Palo Alto Center Geriatric Medicine Program and founder of the program. “Patients passionate about successful aging will partner with us to develop outcome goals that are meaningful to them, their families, their physicians, as well as the health care system.  

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Doctors Honored for Innovations in Geriatric Medicine

Two Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) doctors recently received awards for their innovative work caring for aging patients in the community.

 California Health Care Foundation Award

Albert Lam, M.D.

Albert Lam, M.D.

Albert Lam, M.D., a doctor in geriatric medicine at PAMF, has received an award from the California Health Care Foundation for his work to strengthen systems of care for aging patients.

His groundbreaking project, “SNF 2.0: Modernizing Skilled Nursing Facility Care for the 21st Century,” strives to create a sustainable model of excellence in caring for patients discharged from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities (SNF).

“We are increasingly seeing people in nursing homes that 20 years ago would have been cared for in a hospital setting,” said Dr. Lam.  “Systemic barriers have made it challenging for many nursing homes to care for patients who are leaving the hospital sooner and sicker. We want to be part of the solution.”

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PAMF & Avenidas to Co-Host “Successful Aging” Celebration on August 10


Community invited to free event celebrating older adults

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) and Avenidas invite the community to a celebration to honor seniors. They will bring together resources and organizations to help seniors “age in place.” The free event will be held at PAMF’s Mountain View Center on August 10, 2013, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This is the second year of the annual event, which builds upon the momentum of the first Successful Aging Celebration hosted by PAMF and Avenidas in Palo Alto in 2012, attended by more than 400 people.

The City of Mountain View has proclaimed August 4 through August 10 as “Successful Aging Week” in honor of this community event.

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Advanced Illness Management Care Program Added in San Mateo County

Reduced Hospitalizations and Health Care Costs a Key Goal

Sutter Health’s innovative Advanced Illness Management (AIM)® program is now available to San Mateo County patients with late-stage chronic illness, marking a major expansion of these services in Northern California. The expansion extends access to eligible patients of Palo Alto Medical Foundation in San Mateo County, as well as, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Mills-Peninsula Medical Group and Sutter Care at Home.

Sutter Health’s Dr. Brad Stuart (right) participating in a successful aging seminar hosted by the PAMF David Druker Center for Health Care Innovation.

“AIM uses a nurse-led interdisciplinary team to bridge the gaps between the hospital, the community physician’s office, and home for our sickest patients,” said Brad Stuart, M.D., Senior Medical Director for Sutter Care at Home, an affiliate of Sutter Health. “Quality, affordable care for all of our patients is a priority and the expansion of AIM systemwide complements our mission and values. AIM supports giving the right care, at the right time, at the right level of care for the patient’s goals.”

The AIM program provides nurse-led care management, palliative care, and advance care planning for patients with late-stage chronic illness. With a pilot in Sutter Health’s Sacramento Sierra Region showing positive outcomes, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) awarded Sutter Health a three-year, $13-million Health Care Innovation Award to support the expansion of AIM throughout Northern California.

The Sacramento Sierra Region pilot showed reduced hospitalizations and improved care transitions, contributing to an improved quality of life for patients enrolled in AIM.

Together, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Mills-Peninsula Health Services comprise Sutter Health’s Peninsula Coastal Region.


Margie O’Clair, 650.934.6970;