Every day in 2012, another 10,000 boomers turn 65. Back in 2003, only 5.7 percent of the U.S. population was 65 or older. Pretty soon, it will be 17.5 percent. And you know what that means (besides a big spike in hair-coloring sales and instant billionaire status for whoever makes the first pair of comfortable high heels)? It means that what the Internet did to brick-and-mortar retailers, boomers are about to do to doctors: Rock their world -- and make them come to us, either in their cars or virtually.
Yup, house calls. Some of them might be video house calls using Skype or a videocam, but still you get the idea. No more driving Mom to the doctor and cooling your jets while she waits to be seen. No more rearranging an entire day around the need to get a flu shot.
Boomers are reshaping the health-care delivery system and doctors who visit their patients in their homes -- or nurses doing blood pressure screenings at senior centers or giving flu shots at drugstores or drawing blood for diabetes tests at churches -- are just a part of what the future of health care looks like, experts say.
Community-delivered services will take over for a lot of routine screenings that are now done in a medical-office setting. And as for the doctor driving to our homes, there are already starting to that through services, like Mobile Doctors, whose doctors have made 250,000 house calls since the company's inception in 1996. The service, which accepts Medicare's assignment, operates weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Patients are seen within 24 to 48 hours and most diagnostic tests are performed right in the patient's home.
It's the sheer force of boomers' numbers that will demand these and other changes, says Regina Herzlinger, chaired professor at Harvard Business School. Dubbed the "godmother" of consumer-driven health care by Money magazine, Herzlinger notes that boomers as a generation are busier and better educated than previous generations and not shy about voicing their unhappiness. They've seen how effective they can be when they stand shoulder-to-shoulder and are absolutely turning their sights on health care. What other changes are already happening and what can we expect to see? Check out our slideshow for eight top trends.