BOSTON – The health care industry is going to need real innovation from the business community to help a growing senior population stay healthy, said Dr. Christine Cassel, presidential chair and visiting professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
“If we don’t improve the way we deliver health care for seniors, the impact will be huge,” she said to attendees of the d.health summit last week.
Cassel, former president and CEO of the National Quality Forum, said that technology innovations play a crucial role in the future of health care delivery.
It is estimated that all Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964) will turn 65 by 2030, accounting for a full 18% of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center.
“We need to see innovation in health care delivery to get these people out of the hospital and allow them to stay healthy in their homes and communities,” Cassel said.
Pharmacists will also play a larger role in health care than ever before and become part of ‘virtual teams’ of caregivers, Cassel believes.
She said that pharmacists have all of the information regarding the costs and risks of medication and can identify risks ahead of time to avoid potential adverse outcomes.
“It makes sense to put them at the heart of health care for seniors,” Cassel said.
When it comes to technology innovation, the nation’s health system is in its infancy—but innovation is happening, she said. An innovation economy will help drive a health care delivery transformation by connecting families and helping patients understand their condition.
As people extend their life expectancy longer than ever before, it will be important to find ways to fill the gaps in health care, like a lack of physicians and rising costs.
“There is an innovation challenge as we talk about seniors,” Cassel said. “I would like to challenge innovators to come up with ways to drive down the cost of health care.”