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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Health Care Work Force Unprepared for Baby Boomers
05/26/2008

Click to listen to this taped broadcast.

I'm Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with "The Business of Health Care Report."

A recent Institute of Medicine report revealed that the United States health care work force is "too small and woefully unprepared" to handle the health care needs of 78 million aging baby boomers.

The first of the boomers will reach age 65 in the year 2011. By 2030, all 78 million boomers will be 65 or older. To meet the geriatric care needs of this generation, we will need at least 36,000 practicing geriatricians in the U.S. by 2030. Today, we have fewer than 8,000.

Part of the problem is that many geriatricians, physicians who specialize in care for the elderly, are paid much less than general internists. To address this, the Institute of Medicine report recommends we act quickly to create incentives for medical students to become geriatricians.

This is an important step, but much more will be required to prepare our health care system for the staggering demand we face as the boomers reach 65 and beyond. Health care providers cannot do it alone.

In April, Texas Health convened a group of local business and community leaders to work towards health care reform. The impending need for increased health services is among our top priorities. Keep listening for ways we can work together to address these important issues.

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

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