America is undergoing another big social change. As baby boomers give way to millennials in the job market, the aging population finds itself in need of caretakers at the retirement stage.
But with the healthcare system in its current state, it appears that the boomer generation also needs to be met with more qualified providers. An efficient and patient-centric healthcare industry calls for a growing demand for medical practitioners in the face of such rapid societal disruption.
Around 48 million Americans were not covered by insurance in 2012, and while the numbers have dipped since, the bigger question is, will doctors be able to accommodate the number of newly insured young and elderly persons?
Among the two age spectrums, however, it looks like the older generation will be pushing for healthcare reforms faster fueling the needs for increased demands for qualified healthcare professionals. Here are some reasons for the increase in healthcare demands and the need for evolution of a stronger healthcare system in America:
Increase in Population
As the name suggests, baby boomers have seen the biggest population growth in the country. The entire generation spans 75 million persons up to date. While admittedly not all of these are fit to be called geriatric patients, the number of boomers who are hitting the retiring age at 65 is rapidly increasing, and is expected to grow in the years to come.
The sheer count of their population is perhaps the most obvious reason why the so-called aging population is at the forefront of health care disruption in America. A large market is about to open new opportunities for providers and patients alike.
Statistics alone already call for an increase of providers who are both trained in the field of elderly health care and general medical expertise. In order to keep up with the market demand, the healthcare industry should start investing in well-trained professionals in the field.
An Extended Lifespan
Recently, there’s been news about the discovery of the cap for humanity’s life expectancy. Scientists claim we’ve set the bar at 115 years old, which is a substantially long life. As technology develops, and even more new discoveries are being made, this number may yet change in the future.
Although not confined to baby boomers, the longevity of people’s lifespans is notably growing with each decade. As these studies have proven, we might soon see humans live up to a norm of a hundred years or so.
However, while this may be a cause to celebrate in the scientific community, it will also mean taking in a greater number of elderly patients. Healthcare providers should be prepared to address chronic diseases in the elderly as that market expands.
A certain knowledge of and expertise in such diseases will be necessary in catering to such patients. At the same time, some understanding in dealing with an advanced aging population will also come in handy in providing access to better healthcare.
Willingness to Adapt
Another driving factor behind baby boomers’ agency to transform healthcare is their willingness to adapt new methods. We may think that millennials are the tech-savvy generation, but when it comes to health, the numbers show that there is an increasing amount of baby boomers willing to try out the latest health tech.
In other countries, 47% of the ageing population are willing to pay more to see innovative health products out in the market. A significant investment of this scale in the American healthcare system has the potential to similarly disrupt and give way to new health discoveries.
It does help that these new med tech advancements are all for improving patient access and care. Mobile health and EHRs aim to reduce the physical distance between provider and patient, making healthcare an easier process. This is especially true for patients in remote areas, or with limited mobility.
Healthcare Reforms Now
As mentioned earlier, the number of insured individuals in America will be a tipping point in revolutionizing the healthcare industry as we know it.
Affordable healthcare coverage is encouraging more and more Americans to get themselves insured. Retirement planning at this level will push the aging population to seek out better healthcare.
A notable downside to this is the clamor for qualified providers that will be able to cater to such a number, even on an affordably insured budget. As a side-effect, the US is currently experiencing a shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals who will be able to accommodate the growing number of health patients.
Demand for other qualified providers is bound to add to these numbers as soon as the population of 65 years and up enter the health market under the Affordable Care Act. But does affordable care immediately equate to capable care?
The preparedness of these health professionals will be tested once it meets with the aging population. But for the moment projected fears estimate that health reforms in terms of patients should also look at training more nurses and doctors for the future of healthcare.
The Takeaway: Affordable and Accessible Healthcare for the Elderly
The changes in the current state of today’s job market isn’t just affecting work lifestyles. A turnover from baby boomers to millennials is also seeing the greatest number of retirees in recent history.
Add the numbers to the fact that with our advanced technology and the latest discoveries to boot, we’re increasingly seeing people live longer lives. At the same time, more advanced diseases are threatening the health of the aging population.
Now more than ever, a health-conscious society is looking for new avenues to improve patient care and access. Investments in health tech and better-trained professionals are growing. But the change doesn’t just call for revolutionary tech, it also opens the market to more qualified doctors and nurses who can manage the increasing numbers of patients.
The aging population is revolutionizing the US health market, opening new opportunities for patients and providers alike. Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals should be prepared to adjust to the change, and cope with the growing demand.