The future of healthcare is constantly being assessed with an eye on trends in economics, politics, labor, and society in general. It is essential to forecast the environment we will operate in the next several decades so that we are prepared to face new challenges.
Think about nurses who are nearing the end of their career… What the field of medicine and its challenges were 30 or 40 years ago compared to now. The technology they had at their disposal at the beginning of their career versus the end. We will have the same experience of change. If you’re newer in nursing or medicine with the bulk of your career ahead of you, these are a few trends that you are likely to see:
- Change in caregiver ratio. In 2010, the ratio of caregivers to patients was 7:1. As “Baby Boomers” age and retire, there will be a growing number of Americans in need of health care. Patients will be living longer and the number of American with chronic conditions is expected to sky-rocket. The growth of this group is expected to outgrow the healthcare workforce. By 2030, the ratio is expected to drop to 4:1 and by 2050, even lower to 3:1.
- Medicare is at risk. We Americans sure hate socialist healthcare systems, unless its Medicare or any other system already established in the U.S. (okay, I’ll leave the politics for another day). Unfortunately, this system that over 50 million Americans rely on is at jeopardy. This also has a lot to due with the aging of older generations. The working Americans contributing to Medicare is expected to grow more slowly than the elderly population using the funding. This means more health care to be paid for with less money. It will be more important than ever to improve the efficiency and outcomes of our healthcare system!
- Demographic shift. By 2050, the Latino population is expected to make up 29% of the U.S. population. In comparison, the 2010 U.S. Census reported 16.3% of the population was Latino or Hispanic. A 13% jump would even further solidify this group as the largest minority in the U.S. So, why does this matter? As the consumers of healthcare change, so must our strategy to provide patient-centered care. This means incorporating more alternative medicine, overcoming language barriers, accompanying family and cultural values, food preferences, and religious beliefs. In addition, our workforce will likely become more diverse which will be a strength as the client-base changes.
There are a number of other trends and innovations to be expected in healthcare- just look up some of the advancements being made with robotics and 3D printing. Nurses and physicians will continue to improve the application of evidence-based practices and make patient-care even more customized. What do you think about the future of healthcare? Let me know in the comments below!