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Making the Case for More Specialist Training

Making the Case for More Specialist Training

Experts have reported that population growth among the elderly and the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases in these older Americans will have profound implications for the United States healthcare system in the coming decades. An estimated 89 million Americans will be 65 and older by 2050, a figure that is more than double the current population for this age group. In addition, more than 90% of elderly Americans report having one or more chronic diseases. “This trend is likely to continue,” says Timothy M. Dall, MS. “It will be challenging for the medical community to overcome the combination of increased longevity and high rates of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.” Primary care physicians (PCPs) play an important role in providing preventive services and caring for the elderly population, but recent data suggest that the need for specialist care is also likely to increase as medical knowledge and treatment options continue to advance. “Specialists play essential roles in diagnosing, treating, and monitoring patients with various health problems,” says Dall. “Understanding the needs and demand for both primary care and specialist services can help inform decisions about the number and mix of healthcare providers that the U.S. will need to train so that care is accessible, of high quality, and affordable.” Forecasting the Future In a study published in Health Affairs, Dall and colleagues forecasted future demand for healthcare services and providers. This forecast was based on projected changes in demographic characteristics and other predictors of healthcare use as well as the estimated impact of expanded medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act. According to the analysis, growth and...
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