3 Experts Discuss the Impact of Baby Boomers on Healthcare and Radiology

2014-09-09
 

The Impact of Baby Boomers on Healthcare and Radiology

As a group that’s an impressive 75 million strong, three million American Boomers will hit retirement age every year for the next 20 years. As enterprise medical imaging technology advances and becomes more sophisticated, how will Baby Boomers respond to changes in the industry — and how will the industry respond to Baby Boomers’ expectations?

We’re discussing this question with three industry experts:

Richard Duszak, MD, Vice Chair of Radiology for Health Policy and Practice at Emory University School of Medicine and Chief Medical Officer, Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute

Safwan Halabi, MD, Director of Imaging Informatics at Henry Ford Radiology; and

Geraldine McGinty, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Assistant Director, Physician Organization at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Mobile Health Solutions

Question: Baby Boomers have seen an impressive amount of technological changes in their lives. The impact of Baby Boomers on healthcare will be determined in part by their openness to adopting what’s new, such as mobile communications that can keep them engaged in their healthcare.How do you see Baby Boomers and mobile technologies intersect?

Halabi: These healthcare consumers will leverage electronic and mobile health information to help make healthcare decisions. They’ll want real-time access to all of their medical records in addition to having direct access to healthcare institutions and providers including pharmacies and medical equipment vendors. They will also use these technologies to share their healthcare information with others and participate in support groups.

McGinty: [Mobile] expectations aren’t necessarily just for Baby Boomers. Patients in general want access themselves and want to engage more with their physicians. In breast imaging, we’re working to engage more with our patients, for example setting up patient consultation clinics, responding to questions about breast density on the ACR website and incorporating Imaging 3.0 calls to action.

Duszak: Our mobile and connected society is an engaged one, and so we need to make sure that our patients are engaged. And the way to do that is pretty simple: treat them as you would want if you were the patient. The days of paternalistic medicine and long waits are over. Patients expect quality imaging, but they also demand service and respect.

Imaging Procedures

Question: With their more active lifestyles than previous generations of retirees, Baby Boomers want a high quality of life and access to minimally invasive procedures. How will advances in radiology allow Baby Boomers to have procedures that fit their lifestyles?

McGinty: People who are in their 60s aren’t “old” anymore. They’re more active, still working, working out, and expect a full life. In healthcare, we’re all working toward less invasive procedures. The focus is on value rather than volume, with payment models changing and supporting this trend.

Halabi: Imaging is a double-edged sword. While we have traditionally been able to see into the body to diagnose various ailments, we have also seen more incidental findings that may cause more harm than good. I hope we in the healthcare community will be able to use our experiences to help guide appropriate and timely care to patients. Physicians need to be rewarded for providing quality services which also includes not performing unnecessary procedures and tests.

Duszak: The advances in imaging fit perfectly with society’s increased focus on quality of life. Accuracy and efficiencies are increasing priorities in all industries and medical imaging is at the forefront of making these happen in healthcare. Advanced imaging permits more expeditious and definitive diagnoses, and minimally invasive imaging guided procedures offer less risk and quicker recoveries.

Patient Engagement

Question: Baby Boomers tend to take an active role in and responsibility for their health and seek out additional opinions. As Baby Boomers age, how should radiologists adjust to engage them in more meaningful ways?

Duszak: People ask me all the time: “How do I need to change my practice to deal with changing patient expectations?” as if this is rocket science. It really isn’t. Think about the companies and industries that meet your needs, and implement things that they do to keep you coming back. Think about the things you hate about being a patient and stop them from happening in your practice. Sadly, too many folks in healthcare are focused only on their workflow, and that status quo can be paralyzing.

Halabi: Radiologists need to learn how to communicate imaging findings and recommendations directly to patients in a way that’s easy to understand. Whether it’s through better multimedia reports or direct, face-to-face interaction, it will be imperative for radiologists to move beyond the reading room and text-based reports. Also, radiologists will have to be available 24/7 to their referring physicians to help guide decision making.

McGinty: In radiology we’ll be engaging with this population more, especially surrounding screening exams. The trend will encompass more shared decision making.

Retirement for previous generations typically meant slowing down. For the Baby Boomers, the typical retirement age trends include traveling, continuing careers, working part time, volunteering and many other activities. The impact of Baby Boomers on healthcare and radiology may include more mobile solutions, less invasive or radiology-guided procedures and increased patient engagement strategies.

Attain more insight about how radiology is changing in this resource on 3 Diagnostic Imaging Trends You Must Watch Closely.

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