Expert on the elderly to visit USF

For the elderly, especially those with illness, a simple trip to the doctor’s office may be an arduous struggle.

Diagnosing problems and determining whether medication is having an effect can also be a difficult process.

John Ware, the founder and CEO of QualityMetric, Inc. in Lincoln, Rhode Island, has made a career of making medical care for the elderly less difficult.

Ware will visit USF Friday, delivering a lecture about monitoring health outcomes among the elderly, and the use of computers and the Internet in patient care.

James Mortimer, director for the Institute on Aging, said Ware has spent his career developing medical testing that fits patients’ needs.

“What he’s an expert in is generating instruments that measure things very quickly and effectively,” Mortimer said. “A lot of our questionnaires are very inefficient. He develops instruments that are very efficient.”

Mortimer said Ware has done this by developing “short instruments” which gather the needed information from patients as quickly as possible. Mortimer said this is particularly important in the elderly.

“You don’t want the evaluation to wear them out,” Mortimer said. “His main contribution here has been to develop these short instruments.”

Mortimer said an example of Ware’s work is a test that starts with a question, and then depending on whether the patient answers correctly or incorrectly, the follow-up question is easier or more difficult. The benefit, Mortimer said, is that the test molds to the patient.

“It gets at a person’s (problems) easier than if everybody gets the same test,” Mortimer said.

In addition, Mortimer said the speed with which Ware’s tests are conducted have been of great benefit to the medical community.

“We do surveys on large groups of people. When you do a large scale survey you don’t want to spend two and a half hours asking a person questions when you can get the answers in 20 minutes,” Mortimer said. “People don’t drop out (of a quick survey).”

Ware’s career in medicine has taken him from the Harvard School of Public Health to the New England Medical Center in Boston. He is most famous for his SF-36 health survey used to measure patient outcomes. Mortimer said this survey is now used virtually everywhere in the world.

Mortimer said, in addition to his vital work in medical surveys, Ware has made advances in the use of computers in medicine, which is what he will be discussing during his visit to USF.

“This notion that people don’t have to come in to be tested, they can sit at their computer terminals and be tested, that (is important),” he said. “He is actually the foremost authority on the computerized testing of the elderly.”

The goal of all of this, Mortimer said, is to improve the patient’s quality of life by reducing their time dealing with medical problems. Mortimer said his students at the Institute will benefit from hearing Ware speak.

“We have a lot of students for whom one of the things they’re learning is how to acquire information rather quickly on the health of older people,” he said. “He is the world authority.”

Ware’s lecture will take place Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the College of Public Health auditorium.

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