Future of Baby Boomer Health Care
By John Knab
A recent study shows that the aging of baby boomers will do more than merely increase the number of patients - it also will reduce the number of doctors and nurses available to care for them.
Nearly 13% of registered nurses in the U.S. will reach retirement age in five years, says a report by the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the State University of New York [SUNY] at Albany. Almost 44% will turn 65 by 2020.
Half of the country's advanced practice nurses - those with enough training to prescribe drugs, work as anesthetists and deliver babies - will reach retirement age within 15 years. Despite an increase in newly licensed advance practice nurses, supply won't meet demand.
Faced with these trends, the government, health insurers and businesses are testing out possible solutions in a range of areas: electronic medical record systems, new monitoring devices for the home and medical practice redesign.
Health insurance giant Kaiser Permanente recently launched a program that aims to teach its 12,000 doctors how to use an electronic medical records system to streamline their practices.
While the price of these electronic systems is coming down for doctors in small practices, the federal government also is helping.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] is funding a program that uses contractors nationwide to help 4,000 doctors set up electronic medical records and practice more efficiently.
Aging boomers will bring more cases of chronic illness - a potential growth market when you consider the shortage of medical help.
Just as baby boomers are aging and starting to consume a disproportionate share of health services, many doctors and nurses themselves are boomers and are retiring and working fewer hours!
Doctors are more likely to be 55, or older than the U.S. work force as a whole. And older doctors work fewer hours than younger ones. About 30% of doctors are over 54 today, vs. 14% of the overall work force.
It takes a long time to educate and train a physician. So you're not going to see a lot of younger physicians turning up. Physicians are generally older than average. Half of physicians are 45 and older; in the civilian labor force, only 37% are over 45. In addition, the number of new geriatricians is declining.
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To the best of your health,
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About the Author
Self employed, internet marketer, web author, enjoy outdoor sports such as cycling and down hill skiing. Have followed the supplement industry for over 20 years.
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