Among other challenges, the health care system experiences a shortage of healthcare providers and increased demand for healthcare. The oldest baby boomers have already approached 65 years and have started demanding social, economic, and healthcare support for them to live decent lives. According to Nash (2008), “60% of the boomers will not be able to maintain a lifestyle close to their current one without continuing to work, and that 60% of old boomers already suffer from chronic health problems” (p.1). Given their precarious conditions, baby boomers place a significant burden on their families and the healthcare system since they require social, economic, and healthcare support. Richardson (2010) argues that the shortage of healthcare providers in the United States is going to be acute, as baby boomers retire and experience age-related disorders. This means that baby boomers will worsen the shortage of healthcare providers that is evident in the health care system. In this view, this essay examines the shortage of healthcare providers and the aging demographics of baby boomers to outline how technology can aid in the provision of healthcare services.
Shortage of Healthcare Providers
The shortage of healthcare providers is an issue that the health care system is grappling with within the 21st century. The increasing population and the emergence of lifestyle and chronic diseases have increased the demand for healthcare services. Projections show that by the year 2020, the health care system of the United States would face about a 20% shortage of physicians, which translates to approximately 200,000 physicians (Lakhan & Laird, 2009). The shortage is mainly due to the exponential increase in the population and the emergence of baby boomers. Likewise, the health care system is experiencing a shortage of nurses due to the increase in population, the aging of baby boomers, and the decline in the number of nurses. Richardson (2010) states that the shortage of nurses has occurred due to poor remuneration, deprived working conditions, and increased population. Pharmacists are experiencing similar trends of their shortage and increased demands for their services. Thus, the health care systems in the United States and across the world are facing an imminent shortage of healthcare providers.
The aging of the population has a significant impact on the health care system because it increases the demand for healthcare services, which occur due to age-related illnesses. The demography of baby boomers depicts the aging of the population that has a considerable impact on the health care system. As baby boomers constitute the generation that constitutes 78 million people who were born between 1946 and 1964, they impose a significant burden on the health care system of the United States (Davis & Roberts, 2010). In the year 2011, the oldest baby boomers reached their retirement age, while others have subsequently reached their retirement age. Statistics show that about 60% of baby boomers suffer from chronic illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension, which need effective management interventions (Nash, 2010). These illnesses are very demanding because patients require dietary changes, frequent checkups, and the use of medications when managing these chronic illnesses. Hence, the aging baby boomers overstretch the utilization of available healthcare services. Since the first baby boomers have just begun to reach old age, the health care system will experience the full impact of their demands by the year 2030, when approximately all of them would be above 65 years old.
Role of technology
To alleviate the shortage of healthcare providers and provide quality healthcare services to the population, the application of technology is necessary. Since baby boomers have an increased demand for healthcare services, the use of technology can aid in meeting their demands. The use of remote sensors is a technology that allows physicians and nurses to monitor the conditions of patients remotely when they are in the ward or at home. According to Garquilo, Bifulco, Cesarelli, Jin, McEwan, and Schaik (2010), the remote sensors enable real-time monitoring of mental status, blood sugar level, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and other medical conditions. The use of remote sensors reduces unnecessary hustles for checkups, and thus prevents needless hospitalizations, which usually demand the physical presence of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists. Thus, remote monitoring of the patients is an effective way of alleviating the shortage of healthcare providers due to the increased demand for health services by baby boomers.
The application of telemedicine is another technological intervention that would help reduce the shortage of healthcare providers. Telemedicine is the application of information technology in the provision of healthcare services to patients who are in remote areas. Since the shortage of healthcare providers occurs due to the overwhelming demands for healthcare services, telemedicine would enable physicians, nurses, and pharmacists to serve patients who are in remote areas without necessarily meeting them physically. Nouhi, Fayaz-Bakhsh, Mohamadi, and Shafii (2012) assert that telemedicine has the potential impact of optimizing the capacities of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists by enabling them to serve an increased number of patients. Thus, telemedicine is an essential technology that would help the health care system to meet the demands of baby boomers.
Increasing demand for healthcare services due to the increased population and the aging of baby boomers requires the application of technology to meet the demand. The shortage of healthcare providers and the demographics of baby boomers are posing a significant challenge to the health care system. Thus, the essay points out that the use of remote sensors and telemedicine as some of the technological interventions would alleviate the shortage of healthcare providers and the increased demand for healthcare services by baby boomers.
Davis, G., & Roberts, L. (2010). The healthcare burden imposed by liver disease in aging Baby Boomers. Current Gastroenterology Reports, 12(1), 1-6.
Garquilo, G., Bifulco, P., Cesarelli, M., Jin, C., McEwan, A., & Schaik, A. (2010). Wearable dry sensors with Bluetooth connection for use in remote patient monitoring systems. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 161(1), 57-65.
Lakhan, S., & Laird, C. (2009). Addressing the primary care physician shortage in an evolving medical workforce. International Archives of Medicine, 2(1), 1-4.
Nash, D. (2008). Birthday Boomer. Biotechnology Healthcare, 5(4), 1-2.
Nouhi, M., Fayaz-Bakhsh, A., Mohamadi, E., & Shafii, M. (2012). Telemedicine and its potential impacts on reducing inequalities in access to health manpower. Telemedicine Journal and e-Health, 18(8), 648-653.
Richardson, K. (2010). The impact of retiring baby boomers on nursing shortage. The Journal of Global Health Care Systems, 1(1), 1-16.