At the September CalOptima Board of Directors Meeting, Michelle Steel, Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, voted alongside her colleagues to expand the “PACE Without Walls” model by providing senior-friendly smartphones to eligible PACE members in order to expand their access to virtual care. Smartphones will be equipped with the Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) and a telehealth application to support telehealth encounters.
“I am so happy to include this modern solution to assisting our elderly patients in CalOptima’s PACE program,” said Chairwoman Steel. “It is critical we continue to support our most vulnerable seniors in their home environment. While the PERS system allows PACE participants to call for help in an emergency by pushing a button, these smartphones will give our seniors the opportunity to set up virtual health visits with our medical professionals.”
In addition to the smartphones, Chairwoman Steel and her colleagues on the CalOptima Board of Directors voted to extend the PACE Primary Care Provider (PCP) Incentive Program. The incentive program encourages primary care providers to improve on their quality measures by reducing inpatient visits while increasing patient satisfaction, encouraging comprehensive diabetes care, and more. This program has allowed for more after hours and weekend home and telehealth evaluations, which have taken on a much greater role since the COVID-19 pandemic, as many PACE participants have been reluctant to come to the clinic.
“The extension of this program is vital, especially at this time as we deal with COVID-19,” said Chairwoman Steel. “Finding alternatives to providing care to our elderly population to avoid exposure to the virus is of the utmost importance. This program has proven successful and I am delighted that the board of directors was able to continue this essential program to our senior citizens in the PACE program.”
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First elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2014, Michelle Steel represents the residents of the Second District, which includes, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, Stanton, the unincorporated area of Rossmoor, and portions of Buena Park and Fountain Valley. Steel, a successful businesswoman and renowned taxpayer advocate, previously served as Vice Chair of the State Board of Equalization where she represented more than eight million people in Southern California, including all of Orange County, as one of the state’s 12 constitutional officers.