Aging Population and Growing Disease Burden Will Increase Demand for Specialists

Written by on December 31, 2013 in Insight - No comments

The rise in prevalence of chronic diseases and complex medical conditions associated with a rapidly aging population will increase demand for medical specialists throughout the United States, according to a study by IHS (NYSE: IHS), the leading source of information and analysis. The study was released today in the November issue of Health Affairs, a journal of health, health care, and policy published by Project HOPE.

Changing demographics and expanded medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act will increase demand for medical services and primary care and specialty physicians. Ambulatory care service volume is projected to increase by 8 to 12 percent between 2013 and 2025, while hospital inpatient days are projected to increase by about 19 percent (reflecting higher rates of hospitalization and surgery among the elderly population).

Demand for adult primary care services is projected to increase by approximately 14 percent during this period, while demand for specialty care will increase more quickly among medical specialties that disproportionately care for older patients. High growth specialties include: vascular surgery, up 31 percent, followed by cardiology, up 20 percent; and neurological surgery, radiology and general surgery, all up 18 percent. In comparison, projected growth for general pediatrics during the same period is just 6 percent reflecting projected low growth of the child population.

According to Census Bureau projections cited in the study, the nation’s elderly population (65 and older) will increase by nearly 45 percent between now and 2025, a period when the general population will grow by 9.5 percent. With an aging population, the study says, comes increasing prevalence of chronic diseases – by 2025, the portion of the population with cardiovascular disease or a history of stroke or heart disease is projected to increase by nearly 27 percent and the percentage with diabetes by 21 percent.

The study also notes that the projected growth in demand for specialty services varies substantially by state, reflecting differences in population growth, demographic characteristics, economic factors and the expansion of health coverage. For example, demand at the national level for cardiologist services is projected to increase by 20 percent through 2025, but in West Virginia the demand will grow by 5 percent while in Nevada it will increase by 51 percent. Demand growth for vascular surgery services ranges from 12 percent in Iowa to 63 percent in Arizona.

“The disease burden associated with a growing elderly population will require a large and diverse health care workforce that can effectively and efficiently diagnose and treat patients with complex medical conditions,” says Tim Dall, managing director for healthcare and pharma at IHS. Failure to train sufficient numbers and the correct mix of medical specialists could exacerbate already long wait times for appointments, reduce access to health care and reduce quality of life for some of the nation’s most vulnerable patients, according to the study.

For a copy of the report, The Care Span: Aging Population and Growing Disease Burden Will Require Large and Specialized Health Care Workforce, go to and then open the article posted on the right side of the page beneath Download Whitepapers.

About IHS (
IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs approximately 8,000 people in 31 countries around the world.


Leave a Comment

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box