L.A.’s health care business is standing on the cusp of a seismic shift.

As our local population of baby boomers gets older, and as new federal health care policy takes effect, companies from every corner of the local health care sector are adjusting and adapting to a rapidly changing demand for care.

Seventeen years from now, according to a recent study by USC’s Population Dynamics Research Group, seniors will make up more than one-fifth of Los Angeles County’s population. That’ll be double the number of seniors the county had 13 years ago. The same study predicts that in 20 years, the county will have added more than 867,000 seniors while losing 630,000 people under 25.

USC researcher Dowell Myers, who co-authored the Population Dynamics Research Group study, said the shift in the L.A. population as a result of aging is set to be among the most drastic in the nation.

This massive shift in the makeup of L.A.’s population is changing the local health care landscape, creating a rapidly growing need for new kinds of businesses – businesses that are smaller, nimbler, more innovative, more specialized and more focused on the quality and convenience of the services they are providing.

In addition, more and more new health care businesses are focusing on preventive care, rather than reactive care. With our population rapidly aging, emerging companies have realized that the best, most cost-effective way to care for patients and clients is to be in the business of preventing sickness and injury, rather than responding to it.

For an example of how this adaptation is taking place, consider the pressure that rising health care costs and the rapidly increasing demand for care are placing on our hospital system.

Due to policy changes associated with the Affordable Care Act, hospitals will now be financially penalized for every patient they readmit within 30 days of discharge. This means that, going forward, fewer and fewer patients will be taken back in by hospitals to recover from sickness or injury, and a need is rapidly emerging to fill that demand.

My company, which provides nonmedical in-home care services, along with similar companies, has responded to this demand by adding programs to our businesses that focus on helping seniors and the disabled transition from a hospital recovery environment to a recovery at home.

Small and nimble

Because these new health care companies are small, nimble and employ more versatile staff, they are able to respond effectively to growing demands in the local health care sector that emerge quickly and need to be met immediately.

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