There is a looming population group poised to impact the US healthcare system with a voracious appetite for healthcare. The group has been dubbed the ‘silver tsunami’– a name that our research shows first appeared in a 2002 paper by University of Nevada, Reno professor Mary Finn Maples. So how big of a problem will this group create? How should a proactive healthcare leader prepare today?

Many in the industry have not yet fully grasped the consequences that will result from this demographic shift. In fact, our healthcare system is woefully unprepared to meet the needs of their soon-to-be patient base. The historical focus on inpatient and episodic care, incentivized by our fee-for-service healthcare system, has caused provider organizations to build up resources in exactly the wrong places. As a result, we have a healthcare system that is dramatically overbedded in some areas, and underbedded in the ones that our aging system will require. Healthcare leaders will need to reverse this allocation of resources in order to meet the demands of this population.

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