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    A perfect storm is forming. Here is what estimates are showing by 2030:

    There will be more than 80 million Americans 65 or older – up from 56 million today.
    An estimated 66 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will have two or more serious and costly chronic conditions.
    The U.S. is projected to have a shortfall of up to 121,300 physicians, per the Association of American Medical Colleges.

    What does this mean? That in the very near future, the U.S. will need to provide care for an older and sicker population than ever before and will have fewer doctors to do it with.

    One of the ways that healthcare providers and doctors are looking to bridge this potential gap is through “virtual care,” an umbrella term describing the many ways healthcare providers interact with their patients without seeing them in person, such as telemedicine.

    While still a relatively new technology, virtual care is becoming more and more accepted by the 65+ demographic. Per Doximity’s Dr. Peter Alperin, “Telemedicine is growing for a couple of reasons. One, in general, the physician shortage is leading to a limitation of specialty and primary care. Second, the technology is now available to allow physicians to do excellent consultations and services.”

    One example of a successful virtual care program being administered is Kindred Healthcare’s AfterCare program.

    AfterCare is facilitated by the Kindred Contact Center, located within Kindred Hospital Louisville off Baxter Avenue. The program features Registered Nurses reaching out by telephone to patients recently discharged home from any of the 71 Kindred Hospitals across the country. The Registered Nurse connects with the patient and/or their loved one in order to find out if they have the medical equipment they need, if they have any questions about their medications and other key factors that help prevent a patient from having to go back to the hospital.

    Through AfterCare, Kindred patients receive calls at 24-48 hours, one week, two weeks and 30 days post-discharge to assess their recovery. If an issue is discovered post-discharge, the Registered Nurse initiates a process to immediately address it. The program has helped patients get the care they need without an in-person visit to the doctor.

    As physicians and hospitals begin to use virtual care more and more, be sure to talk with your caregivers and those of your loved ones to understand how they are using technology to improve the care they provide.

    Cover photo courtesy of Kindred.

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