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Readers Write: Bracing for the Silver Wave: How to Design a Healthcare Technology Stack Built for the Future

November 1, 2023 Readers Write No Comments

Bracing for the Silver Wave: How to Design a Healthcare Technology Stack Built for the Future
By Amanda Hansen

Amanda Hansen is president of AdvancedMD of South Jordan, UT.


For some time now, the healthcare industry has been focused on preparations for the coming Silver Wave, the first time in our nation’s history that adults over the age of 65 will outnumber children 18 years old and younger. This dramatic shift in age demographics has major implications for healthcare providers and the patients they serve. As patient populations age, physicians and their staff will need to reconsider everything from the services they provide and the ways they deliver care to the technology solutions that underpin their systems.

Private medical practices are especially vulnerable to the coming changes. Without the resources and budgets of large healthcare networks, many private practices will face a number of challenges associated with the Silver Wave, some of which have already taken root. Chief among these challenges is ineffective technology solutions that fail to meet the needs of an aging patient population. Few private practices have a crystal ball to help them plan for the future, but there are definite steps healthcare providers can take now to prepare for transitions ahead.

As we enter the beginning stages of the Silver Wave, EHR systems will be even more critical to the patient experience. The increased demand for healthcare services that come with caring for older patient populations translates to increased EHR use and greater need for truly interoperable systems.

The impending shifts associated with the Silver Wave require technology solutions that can effectively manage multiple components of care, from basic patient demographics and healthcare records to complex healthcare services often related to elderly patients. Private practices will need EHR systems that can accommodate and support patient records with multiple healthcare providers, complex treatment plans for chronic illnesses, and increased prescriptions, all dynamics connected to elderly care.

EHR platforms are a crucial component of every healthcare technology stack, now and even more so in the future. Without the right solution in place, interoperability becomes a major obstacle that can significantly impair patient outcomes, the financial health of the private practice, and the overall patient experience, a challenge that will be more difficult to overcome as we near the massive shift in patient ages.

During the pandemic, telehealth became an essential healthcare delivery model. It also opened the door to all new opportunities for underserved patient populations, giving rural areas access to a broader selection of healthcare services and providers. In the last few years, telehealth adoption rates have continued to skyrocket. Now, as the healthcare industry faces a future with more patients over the age of 65 than under the age of 18, telehealth and other alternative healthcare delivery models will become integral to the healthcare experience.

Fortunately, many private practices have already tapped into the potential of telehealth, offering virtual visits to patients who desire more flexibility and convenience when scheduling doctor appointments. For aging patient populations, telehealth is no longer a “nice to have,” instead, it becomes a critical need for people unable to leave their homes. Telehealth, combined with at-home care services and remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices, enable healthcare providers to deliver comprehensive treatment to those most in need.

Similar to effective EHR platforms, alternative healthcare delivery models demand technology solutions that enable seamless processes. Telehealth platforms that are safe and secure, but also offer intuitive user-interfaces ensure physicians can care for all of their patients. At-home care requires technology that allows healthcare providers to update patient records in real-time outside of their office. Same with RPM devices: physicians need technology platforms that effectively integrate with RPM solutions to monitor things like blood pressure, heart rate data, and other medical details for at-risk patients managing chronic illnesses.

Many of the technology solutions that will help bolster healthcare services for the coming silver wave are primarily implemented and managed by the healthcare provider, but it’s important to acknowledge how they will impact the patient. While some may assume that an elderly patient population may be tech-averse, recent reports have revealed just the opposite.

After surveying more than 21,000 adults over the age of 55, McKinsey Health Institute discovered the smartphone was the preferred technology device for the vast majority of respondents ages 55 to 64. Nearly 50% of this same age group listed a tablet or laptop as their preferred device. In fact, when it came to barriers around embracing technology, survey participants cited cost and lack of knowledge. In other words, cost-effective technology paired with effective training that teaches patients how to use various tech devices and apps could mitigate many of the technological challenges facing older patients.

It’s worth noting that the silver wave will include a segment of Generation X, the first generation to use email, search the internet, and download songs to their iPod. If ever there was a generation primed for digital healthcare services, Gen X is it. In the same way an early diagnosis allows for improved patient outcomes, early investments in highly effective technology will enable private practices to establish a robust foundation that not only delivers immediate gains but will sustain their practice during the coming silver wave and all the challenges it will bring.

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  1. Agreed, The VA is using CCDAs today for outbound communication and they started with C32s back in 2012. Looked at…

  2. Part of my attitude relates to an experience I had. And this was within a single HIS. I wanted to…

  3. For what it's worth, the VA currently releases C-CDA (or HITSP C-32...my memory fails me) via eHealth Exchange and has…

  4. Unfortunately, I can't disagree with anything you wrote. It is important that they get this right for so many reasons,…

  5. Going out on a limb here. Wouldn't Oracle's (apparent) interoperability strategy, have a better chance of success, than the VA's?…

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