With a large population of aging baby boomers — the designation of those born between 1946 and 1964 — the opportunity for pharmaceutical providers to be involved in long-term care is becoming more the focus of future strategies. According to Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, M.D. (ret.), Public Health Editor of the Huffington Post, in her article, Baby Boomers: Public Health's Biggest Challenge, "Each day after January 1, 2011, another 10,000 'boomers' will turn 65. As the 79 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 march towards their 65th birthdays, our nation must face the challenges of how an already strained federal budget will provide Social Security and Medicare benefits for future retirees."
With this large segment of the population reaching retirement coupled with lengthened life expectancy, the need to address medicating the elderly is paramount. Long-term care facilities are growing exponentially and the opportunity to expand business to meet these needs will require planning — from delivery channels to the handling of expired pharmaceuticals and contract and receivables management to reconcile the complex costs for this eventuality.
Logically, chronic age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer and heart disease are going to affect larger numbers of patients. This expensive long-term care will burden the already overtaxed Medicare system we have in place.
As an opportunity for expanded business, this is a way for pharmacy networks to reach new customers and counter declining margins. It is also a reality of the ever-changing healthcare model.
For the healthcare industry, there is the chance to promote healthier lifestyles to prevent many age-based illnesses. Pharmacies have wellness programs that can address these issues as well as offer preventative screenings and advice to patients.
Blumenthal adds, "When first established, Medicare was a hospital-based care system. Since then, outpatient services and medication benefits have been added. But this patchwork model requires modernization. Furthermore, the need for home-based and long-term care of the aging population must be addressed. "
The challenges of an aging population can be countered with a strategic plan for handling the logistics associated with this demographic of baby boomers.