Health care spending is entering a Perfect Storm with many apparent but also many unanticipated storm fronts. For example, hospitalization rates increase sharply as we advance from middle age with 111 discharges/1000 into our senior years with 344 discharges/1000. That’s an apparent front, as is the sheer size of the Baby Boomer cohort. But an unanticipated front is the likelihood of more moving from provider to provider among this incipient senior group as compared to older cohorts. Boomers’ debate style leads them to an “Engage Me” approach to providers which not only causes more switching (less loyalty), but also takes more encounter time, compared with more compliant “Direct Me” seniors (Matching the Market, Truven Health Analytics).
Together, this describes a near term future of sharply increasing numbers of people needing healthcare services, more first-time patients, and more visits where the patient requires longer and more intense engagement – and it’s just one aspect of healthcare’s Perfect Storm. The value of tools such as digital health records will become more apparent as they help to avoid redundant services because they offer up-to-date and complete patient information for new providers, and enable desired engagement but minimize additional encounter time.