Baby boomers are changing the health care industry in these two ways
As patients and practitioners, this demographic is key to the sector’s future.
American baby boomers are retiring by the thousands.
AARP says 8,000 baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, turn 65—retirement age—every day. Pew Research Center estimates that number is closer to 10,000. That’s a lot of potentially retiring boomers. Aka: people with increasing health care needs who are simultaneously leaving health care jobs.
This double-pronged effect on the health care system will create demand on a wide variety of jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects health care occupations to grow 19% by 2024, which is much faster than average for all industries. BLS expects health care to add more jobs than any other group of occupations.
With the combo of job openings and patients on the immediate horizon, the sector will have needs in a few ways. These three in particular.
Geriatric specialists will be in demand
This one seems obvious. As the population lives longer, people will have a particularly strong need for health care providers specializing in geriatric services. In fact, LongTermCare.gov reports 70% of people turning 65 will use a form of long-term care before the end of their lives.
Boomers will want to live on their own terms as much as possible, and that is likely to fuel assisted living and other eldercare models that help them stay in their homes as long as they can.
“Baby boomers, although generally requiring more health services, don't like to be categorized or seen as old or sickly," says Jade Preis, co-founder of health care startup Dose in Nashville, Tennessee, which provides remote medical care via telemedicine as well as house call visits.
Boomers on both sides will need to brush up on their tech skills
Boomers have often been willing to adapt to new technology, and health care tech is no exception.
“Expect them to be the first aging generation to adopt tools for telemedicine (the emerging advent of remote doctor-patient care), and remote patient monitoring,” says Bill Balderaz, president of Futurety in Columbus, Ohio, which develops health care IT solutions.
He points out that use of home health monitoring by boomers increased more than 50% from 2014 to 2015, as noted by Becker’s Hospital Review.
All sectors will need plenty of support staff
“There has been an explosion in different products aimed to improve the health and financial well-being of seniors,” says Michael Stahl, senior vice president of independent health care insurance marketplace HealthMarkets, headquartered in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area.
These include comprehensive health insurance plans, Medicare advantage, supplement and prescription drug plans. Wellness products and health and fitness programs aimed at seniors are growing, as well.
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