It’s a plain demographic fact that the segment of the U.S. population over the age of 65 is growing—and that it will continue to do so for years to come. It’s also been proven that seniors account for more healthcare spending than younger patients. In fact, they make up around 15% of the population right now, but contribute over 21% to healthcare costs. What’s more, seniors visit the emergency room more frequently and stay there longer. Clearly, in order for the whole system to continue operating, delivery systems will have to adapt. One possibility being tested is home delivery of urgent care services. Mercy Care, Philips, and DispatchHealth have joined forces on a pilot study in Arizona, wherein patients age 65+ can summon an urgent care provider to their home with the touch of a button, similar to medical alert and fall detection systems. If a patient hits the button, they’re connected directly to a care specialist trained by Philips. If the complaint is nonemergent, a DispatchHealth support center takes over to evaluate the risk and send the appropriate provider to the person’s home. Out of the 1,477 individuals participating, it’s expected that around 300 will make use of the service. Regardless of whether that’s a good estimate or not, the overall cost of care will be compared with other enrolled patients who do not need to use the service. The organizers believe costs will be lower. Of note, a previous study showed out of 1,362 emergency calls placed by Mercy Care members in 2018, 73% resulted in a visit by EMS, but only 22% required transport to a hospital.

 

How Will the Growing Senior Population Shake Up Healthcare Delivery—and Urgent Care?
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