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Aging Populations and Healthcare Technology

In what’s known as the “Silver Tsunami,” the U.S. Census Bureau projects that in 2030, older people will outnumber children for the first time in history. With one in every five Americans reaching retirement age by that date, it is crucial for healthcare providers – and related industries, including medical office software providers – to prepare for a huge shift from current demographics.

One concern is, of course, that as people live longer, it will cost more to keep them healthy and treat chronic conditions. According to forbes.com, the average life expectancy is expected to rise to 110 by the year 2030. The need for long-term care and age-in-place services will only grow, raising the healthcare burden on the economies of many countries worldwide. While some communities are being built to provide a “village” for those with dementia and other aging-related illnesses, other solutions for helping seniors may include in-home robots or other advanced technology to connect them to medical staff. And healthcare providers, in turn, will rely heavily on medical office software to keep them connected to patients and up to date on their recent visits and treatment plans.

Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are expected to benefit a number of chronic conditions that may increase with the older population, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, neurological diseases, and infectious diseases. The use of telehealth, remote monitoring, and fitness trackers are already prevalent enough to be used by some healthcare tech leaders to better understand conditions and improve the services they provide for patients. Dr. Thomas Gill of Yale University notes that with an aging population, the traditional Western approach to medicine may not yield success with its focus on a single condition because “things are a lot more complex in an aging population where patients can have a series of chronic conditions.” Providers of medical office software can play a key role in keeping data accessible to doctors and nurses treating these patients.

Another point to consider is that as the Baby Boomers and those after them reach their golden years, they will have knowledge and expectations of technology that were not an issue with previous generations. The use of smartphones, computers, tablets and other devices have all become commonplace during the active years of this aging population. Nearly all healthcare professionals’ offices already make use of medical office software. While current seniors may not warm to the idea of in-home robots, they will certainly make use of remote monitoring technology, video calls with providers, and other solutions that are currently available. And as the younger generations become part of the silver tsunami, the technological advances still to be made will be familiar to them and more easily incorporated into their plans for care.