Odds are, you probably already see a fair number of older patients in your practice. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the number of older Americans has expanded dramatically in recent years. Between 1990 and 2009, the number of Americans older than 65 increased by almost nine million, reaching 39.6 million.
Explore this issue:October 2012
Otolaryngologists are already seeing the effects of this geriatric population boom. A 2012 study of a large, private ENT practice group in Georgia found that geriatric patient visits accounted for 14.3 percent of all patient encounters in 2004 and 17.9 percent of patient encounters in 2010 (Laryngoscope. 2012; Jul 2. doi: 10.1002/lary.23476). “The reality is that otolaryngologists already see a large portion of geriatric patients,” said Michael M. Johns III, MD, an associate professor of otolaryngology at Emory University in Atlanta and one of the authors of the study. He is also an ENT Today editorial board member.
The Administration on Aging predicts that there will be more than 72 million Americans over the age of 65 in the year 2030; Dr. Johns and his fellow researchers estimate that geriatric patients will account for a full 30 percent of all otolaryngology appointments at that time. Dr. Johns and other researchers wonder if otolaryngologists are truly equipped to handle this projected uptick. “The question is, is there enough capacity within our specialty to adequately care for these people, and are we really trained in geriatric medicine,” said Dr. Johns.