Following WWII a plethora of bouncy babies were born in the United States. Fast forward 55 years later and those babies have grown up! By 2030 there will be over 75 million Americans who are over the age of 65. This generation is living longer than its predecessors and with more chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and heart conditions.
Orthopedic surgeons will also face specific challenges as hip and knee replacement surgeries are in high demand. These surgeries have improved in technique over the last 10 years and produce longer lasting results. The baby boomer generation is considerably more active than that of their parents and expects to be back on their feet much more quickly.
Even healthy and active baby boomers may suffer from the most common cause of injury in older adults – falls. As the baby boomer population continues to increase, the number of falls will inevitably increase, leading to more emergency room visits. Preventing and treating falls will become a major focus of hospitals in this country.
The question remains, how do we provide excellent healthcare, support, and empowerment to a growing elderly population while keeping medical costs as low as possible?
Investments in technology can help with patient flow in hospitals and allow for greater flexibility among patients and doctors alike. Hospitals are also citing an interest among boomers in mobile health care and using technology to track their own health conditions, and to communicate with doctors. Patient portals have been one such advancement that enhances the workflow between doctors and patients.
If doctors and hospitals can provide individuals with health technology, education, and resources, they can become more capable of self-diagnosing, avoiding unnecessary ER and doctor visits, and seeking medical care when it is necessary. Although the cost and time savings are beneficial for all, it is important that patients and doctors gain information from reliable sources.
In 2014, the FDA cleared 24 digital health devices and more devices will continue to be cleared in 2015. Over 90% of MDs said that digital health devices will become an important part of their practice and over half shared a willingness to prescribe medications based off a vital signs biosensor tool or a urinalysis device.
What other innovations in healthcare IT do you think will help the growing baby boomer population to “age gracefully?”