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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Changing Demographics are Changing Health Care (Part 1)

Click to hear the taped broadcast.

I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

The fastest-growing population in the U.S. is people 80 years and older. People are living longer, and with that comes a whole set of geriatric medical needs that did not exist a few decades ago.

What can this growing population expect from health care systems? One trend is the growth of care delivered at home. Maintaining independence is vital to our older population. As they start losing their ability or willingness to drive, they still want to maintain some level of control.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home health care is one of the fastest-growing health care services. In-home medical technologies can make it possible for people to receive care right at home and offer substantial cost savings compared to in-patient facilities.

Another trend is the growing need for geriatricians. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of physicians specializing in health care for an older population. One reason for this decline is that geriatricians rely on Medicare reimbursements, which continue to shrink. We need more incentives for medical students to specialize in areas that face growing demand, such as geriatrics.

Tune in again next week for Part 2 of our look at how the changing character of our population will impact health care.

For our faith-based family of hospitals — Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Arlington Memorial — I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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