Today, people are living longer than ever before, and many will have greater needs for medical care in their later years. In fact, as baby boomers age, many will be living with chronic health problems requiring a coordinated approach to manage these issues effectively and efficiently.
Straining the Existing Medical System
Currently in the United States, there is already a growing number of people with access to medical treatment, thanks to the passage of healthcare reform. Moreover, there’s a greater focus on providing high-quality, value-added care in and around communities.
As we add a larger aging population into the mix, we will begin to see our health system strain under all of the added demand.
This has prompted hospital administrators, facility designers, and public health and medical experts to consider diverse approaches to keeping the industry running smoothly to support current and future needs.
Innovative Ways to Support Aging Needs
Some of the innovative ways to care for the health of Americans as they continue to age include:
- Creating new models of care that combine at-home monitoring and access to treatment through community-based facilities. Some healthcare organizations are already having success sending visiting nurses to see patients in the comfort of their own homes, coupled with bringing them into a community-based healthcare center for more in-depth diagnostic tests and examinations. This two-pronged strategy enables healthcare providers to prevent hospitalizations by more closely monitoring patients on an outpatient basis, thus better helping them manage chronic conditions and avoid complications.
- Educating patients about common health problems and giving them the knowledge and tools they need to be active participants in their own health. Knowledge is power, and with it patients can act proactively to head off serious conditions. Creating community support groups, providing educational material online, and handing out brochures or flyers with key facts can go a long way toward helping patients take more control over their health.
- Including families as part of the treatment team for chronic and acute health issues, so patients will have support to manage and treat their symptoms and weigh in on important decisions.
- Creating Patient-Centered Medical Homes, or outpatient practices where care is centered on the patient’s needs and convenience. This means being located in communities near where people live and work, offering evening and weekend hours, eliminating wait times, using evidence-based design practices to make patients feel at home, and facilitating conversation between the medical practitioner and the patient to create a more positive and respectful relationship.
- Using population health data to identify people who are at risk for various health problems and taking steps to prevent or manage issues before they become serious threats to patients’ well-being.