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BAXTER TO SURVEY HOSPITALS ON THEIR 'READINESS' FOR THE AGING POPULATION

    DEERFIELD, Ill., Aug. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Baxter Healthcare Corp., in conjunction with Age Wave, Inc., is asking 1,300 U.S. hospitals to answer what may be the most important strategic question hospitals will face in the next 20 years.
    The question: Are hospitals today prepared for the one issue in health care that is inevitable and predictable -- the 76 million "baby boomers" who over the next two decades will become this country's largest ever elderly population?
    The Baxter-sponsored survey of general and acute-care hospitals with 150 to 600 beds will determine if hospitals' clinical care, patient services, staff training and community programs will meet the complex needs of this aging patient group.
    "We've been working with hospitals for many years to help them improve operationally," said Lester B. Knight, Baxter executive vice president and head of its Hospital Business.  "But we're also working with them strategically.  No matter what type of reform plan is implemented or what technological advancements are made, the aging phenomena will have a tremendous impact on the future delivery of health care.  We want to work with hospitals to make sure they are ready to face this challenge."
    The survey, conducted for Baxter by Age Wave, a California-based consulting firm focusing on the over-50 market, is part of a comprehensive study initiated by Baxter to identify the critical issues hospitals will face as the number of older patients increases.
    Today, the 64 million people over age 50 consume half of all medical care and almost 65 percent of hospital services.  Those over the age of 65 -- 13 percent of the population -- account for 40 percent of total hospital expenses, or approximately $294 billion.
    The baby-boom generation consists of Americans born between 1946 and 1964.  By the year 2000, the number of adults over 50 will have increased from 64 million today to 76 million, and to 96 million by 2010.  Adding to the pressure on health-care services is an increase in the average life expectancy from 68 years in 1950 to 75 years today.
    The elderly segment of the 50-and-over population poses even more challenges.  Approximately 89 percent of all illness among Americans arises from chronic conditions, such as arthritis, hypertension and diabetes.  The average 65-year-old has four or more chronic conditions. Americans over the age of 85, which is the fastest growing segment of the population, account for eight times as many in-patient days as those under 65.
    "Our nation's acute-care hospitals are entering a critical period as they turn the corner towards the year 2000," said Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., Age Wave president and chief executive officer and author of the best- selling book Age Wave.  "Clearly, hospitals need to plan now for the special needs of this burgeoning older population.  Planning should involve every facet of hospital structure and function, from environmental layout to the purchasing of supplies and information services."
    Twenty hospital visits will be done in conjunction with the survey. In addition, qualitative research has been gathered through focus groups, reports from leading health-care experts and a review of elder programs that are already in place in hospitals and other health-care settings.
    "This study will give us a clear indication of whether hospitals have the resources needed to care for a larger number of older patients, and if not, where the deficiencies are," Knight said.  "We can then work with our customers to develop products and services that will help them effectively meet the needs of this aging patient base."
    Baxter Healthcare Corp. is the principal domestic operating subsidiary of Baxter International Inc.  Through its subsidiaries, Baxter is the leading manufacturer and marketer of health-care products, systems and services worldwide.
    -0-             08/05/93
    CONTACT:  Mary Thomas of Baxter, 708-948-2815; or Victor Kane, Ph.D., of Age Wave, 510-652-9099
    (BAX) CO:  BAXTER HEALTHCARE CORP. IN:  HEA ST:  IL


-- NY066 -- X251 08/05/93
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Date:Aug 5, 1993
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