Much has been written about the Baby Boomers’ projected impact on health care. But, says Ida Schick, chair of Xavier’s graduate program in health services administration, the population born during World War II—directly in advance of the Baby Boom—is already providing important clues as to the future of health care.
“They are far healthier than their parents,” she says. “And as they age, they will have multiple chronic illnesses. You’ll find a lot of diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. What we need to understand is how are we going to take care of people who have these multiple chronic diseases and are going to live until they are 85, 90 or possibly 100? How are we going to pay for that?”
Part of the answer lies in the strategic application of health care informatics, a digital medical universe in which many services—from records and billing to certain types of medical tests, diagnosis and the filling of prescriptions—can be handled via computer.
This streamlined, cost-effective system will soon have a physical presence on campus in the center for health care informatics, which will be one of four new centers located in the new Williams College of Business building. The center will play a key role in training leaders who will effectively shape the future of health care.
“Informatics is really important because you’ll be able to transmit clinical information about the patients and get it to the right providers at the right time so the right kind of diagnosis and treatment can be applied,” Schick says. “It will make it quicker, more efficient, probably more effective.” All of which means large care facilities will have to adapt. “What’s decreasing is the hospital and the skilled nursing,” says Schick. “What’s increasing is the home health care. It’s going in that direction.”
“So we’ve made our tag line ‘Health care is changing; watch it or lead it.’ We hope we will be able to educate and train leaders for health care who will work to change it.”