Baxter International has formed a firm to help hospitals prepare for an expected boom in the elderly population after a study showed most hospitals aren't ready for the new demographics.
Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter holds less than a 15% equity interest in the firm, Age Wave Health Services. The majority owner is Age Wave, an Emeryville, Calif.-based market-research firm. Baxter and Age Wave planned to announce the establishment of the company this week. The total investment in the firm wasn't available.
It will evaluate hospitals' geriatric programs, staff and capacity. It also will help hospitals adopt the best-demonstrated practices for treating the elderly. In the long term, the company plans to work with clinicians to develop protocols for the treatment of diseases that most often afflict the elderly.
In a related move, Baxter also said it formed a team to examine its research initiatives, products and packaging to prepare itself for a rise in the elderly population.
The number of Americans 50 and older is expected to surge 26% to 96 million by 2010, the Census Bureau says.
Only 5% of 1,300 acute-care hospitals said they're "highly" ready for the expected rise in elderly patients, according to a survey conducted for Baxter by Age Wave. More than half said they aren't even "moderately prepared" for the change.
According to the study, elderly patients said they didn't feel caregivers always were sensitive to their needs. Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policies might impede quality care for elderly patients by emphasizing acute care instead of long-term care, the study said.