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Delivering care to an aging population

Article-Delivering care to an aging population

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Healthcare providers stand to benefit from the advancement of telehealth.

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the United States is on the precipice of a seismic demographic shift. By the year 2040, the number of people living in the US over the age of 65 is expected to more than double to 80 million, while the number of people over the age of 85 — the group often in need of the most care — will nearly quadruple from 2,000 to 2,040. This is not just affecting healthcare at home, but also abroad, as the world’s population faces a similar trend. Virtually every country in the world is experiencing this significant social transformation, as we see exponential growth in the number and proportion of senior and elderly populations.

In many ways, this is a credit to modern medicine. We are now able to provide better care for larger segments of the population than ever before and, as a result, we are living longer and healthier. However, as we see this steady increase in these populations, our healthcare system will have to rise to the challenge of maintaining and even surpassing that same level of care, which presents a problem given the current state of our overburdened and understaffed healthcare system. If we are to meet the needs of our aging population, we will have to transform the way in which healthcare is performed and delivered on a nationwide scale.

Hospitals and medical facilities all over the country are stretched thin. Between staff shortages, razor-thin budgets, and the rising demands on the time and resources of our healthcare professionals, we are faced with a serious issue regarding the effective delivery of healthcare services and treatment. We are delaying appointments, waiting longer to be seen and when we finally do get in front of a doctor, we are usually unsure of how much it’ll cost and how much time the doctor even has for us. This is not the fault of the physicians, many of whom are now forced to push a never-ending line of patients through their offices to treat as many as they can. Healthcare is losing its personal touch. It is becoming more about numbers and less about building personal relationships.

Healthcare has a delivery problem. Care is becoming less convenient, less accessible, and less effective. Patients are going longer between appointments or forgoing treatment altogether due to the hassle and difficulty associated with navigating a fractured and slow-moving system. This is dangerous for patients of all ages, but particularly our senior and elderly populations who are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses.

Regular visits and check-ups are our primary means of taking proactive measures against larger and more complicated health problems that can arise. These conditions that would have been either alleviated or otherwise prevented with more accessible and convenient healthcare, now become needless drains on our healthcare resources and, most importantly, the continued health and well-being of the patient.

Digital health technologies have emerged in the years since COVID-19 to become integral tools in our efforts to revolutionize the level of care available to the public. Virtual and mobile healthcare services provide the potential to effectively transform not only the way in which doctors and patients interact but also how individuals engage directly with their own personal health. The highest levels of treatment and care are available in the comfort of patients’ homes, while medications and prescriptions are delivered directly to their doors. This is a particularly important paradigm shift in healthcare delivery for senior and elderly populations that have difficulty reaching important appointments and picking up vital prescriptions. This means that seniors will no longer have to wait weeks or months to be seen by doctors and will never again have an interruption in their medication schedules that can lead to serious illness and degradation of their health.

Both patients and healthcare providers stand to benefit from the further development and advancement of telehealth technologies. By allowing hospitals and medical centers to expand the scope of the services they provide outside of hospital and medical facility walls and into the communities they serve, our aging population will have direct access to comprehensive and preventative care.

Treatment will be more convenient, more comfortable, and, through these efforts, patients will be healthier. This will help to prevent many of the conditions that would have otherwise led seniors to suffer through lengthy hospitalizations and even rehospitalizations for the continued effects of chronic illnesses that then put undue and avoidable stress on our hospitals. This will allow these facilities to effectively allocate their time and resources to patients who require a hospital setting for care.

As seniors represent a higher and higher proportion of our country’s population, an already overburdened healthcare system will have to become more agile and more flexible. By employing these virtual and mobile strategies, our doctors and nurses will be able to see more patients and do so more regularly, keeping patients healthier and happier well into their golden years.

Through the adoption of digital health technologies, it is possible to revolutionize the way in which healthcare is delivered and meet the demands of shifting demographics in not only the United States but all around the world. As our population grows older and wiser, our healthcare system and payor sources must similarly become smarter and more efficient.

Jackleen Samuel

Jackleen Samuel is the Founder and CEO of Resilient Healthcare.

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