There are a number of trends that will inform health care policy in the future. The first is in increase in chronic conditions. The epidemiological shift from acute to chronic conditions has been well documented: however, with the retirement of the baby boomers, the absolute number of individuals with chronic conditions (and multiple, interacting conditions) is set to increase. This will present several challenges to the US medical system. First, there will need to be greater coordination of care: individuals that have chronic conditions will need to have greater coordination between general practitioners and specialists. Second, new and novel treatments will need to be discovered in order to deal with the challenges presented by these patients.
The second main trend that will need to be controlled is costs growth. Cost growth is one of the biggest problems in health care today. Indeed, the United States currently spends nearly 18% of its GDP on health care. Besides chronic conditions, the use of technology is one of the main drivers of chronic costs today. Indeed, such elective surgeries such as hip and knee replacement surgeries add substantive costs to the bottom line. These technologies must be managed more efficiently in order for costs to be curbed and in order for care to be delivered more efficiently.
Finally, there needs to be something done about medical education. Although the US boasts some of the finest medical education systems in the country, it comes at a high cost. That is, although it trains some of the finest doctors and nurses in the world, it leaves individuals with an extremely high debt burden. This debt burden must then be dealt with through a variety of different mechanisms that is not efficient. Overall, there should be more work done to decrease the cost of medical education so that more individuals have the opportunity to become medical professionals in the system and move forward. These are the three main problems plaguing medical care today.