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HOW COULD HOSPITALS ACT IN AN AGEING SOCIETY?

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Author(s): Leuca Mirela

Journal: Annals of the University of Oradea : Economic Science
ISSN 1222-569X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 257;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: hospital care | ageing society | hospitalized elderly patients | demographic challenge | expert interviews

ABSTRACT
The demographic changes are of great importance for all European societies. Their impact and effects have multiple, deep facets. Each European healthcare and welfare system will be facing considerable changes in the new demographic context. The hospital sector plays an important role in each health system. This paper focuses on the impact of the demographic changes on hospitals, presents and analyzes statistical data for the German hospitals sector in order to underline the importance of the older age groups for the number of the hospital inpatient cases, the provided range of medical services and disciplines and for the hospital disease costs. The paper also reveals main findings from 30 interviews conducted in 2010 with German health experts (from hospitals, health insurance companies, universities, institutes and regional healthcare policy makers) that accepted to answer questions referring to the demographic impact on the German healthcare system and hospital sector. The results of the interviews show that hospitals will have to act and react to the demographic changes. German hospitals might play different roles in the healthcare service provision for older people when engaging in new models of integrated care that will have to be developed. Processes, structures, human resources expertise, hospital service provision and medical departments will undergo major changes in response to the demographic challenges. Networks, centres of excellence for older persons and integrated care will probably be indispensable structures of the German healthcare system in the future. Strategic partnerships with pre- and post-hospital healthcare service providers are considered to be top priorities for German hospitals when facing the demographic challenge. Central case management and process optimization can be essential factors of success in the hospital care of the older, multimorbid patients. Acute geriatric medicine will be a main quality feature for the hospital care of older patients not only in the German healthcare system.
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