How to Achieve Success in Long-Term Care as a Geriatric Psychiatrist


Photo of Geriatric Psychiatry SessionEmpower yourself with technology rather than limiting yourself with statistics

As the massive population of baby boomers in the United States continues to age, medical professionals specializing in geriatric care are growing increasingly anxious about their abilities to serve this inevitable and overwhelming wave of new patients. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the proportion of the American population over the age of 65 will increase from 12.4 percent in 2000 to 20 percent by 2030. While we still have a decade to go before reaching this saturation point, the geriatrics space has long struggled to attract new physicians to this area of practice. Even as the senior population exists today, there is a shortage of physicians trained specifically to care for these patients.

This imbalance is particularly noticeable in the field of geriatric psychiatry.

Research confirms that the incidence of mental illness among aging populations is increasing, pointing to concerns like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, addiction disorders, and schizophrenia. However, only 2,500 psychiatrists have received a subspecialty certification in geriatric psychiatry in the past 30 years. At this current rate, there will only be one geriatric psychiatrist for every 5,682 older adults with a psychiatric disorder in 2030.

Any mental health expert who helps senior patients understands that this population has special physical, emotional, and social needs. Internalizing these points of distinction impacts everything they do from diagnosis to treatment. Successful geriatric psychiatrists genuinely listen to the concerns of their patients and react accordingly, as well as help family members understand what’s going on with the mental health of their loved ones. They also collaborate with a wide network of other health care professionals to make sure that the care they provide is as effective as possible.

Geriatric psychiatrists often tend to their patients in other long-term care facilities. In fact, most practitioners visit a high volume of locations each month only to care for a handful of patients at each location. This constant movement requires streamlined communication among interdisciplinary team members at each facility (especially when narcotics prescriptions are involved), a secure and mobile-friendly patient documentation system, and one impeccably organized physician.

EHR Technology Continues to Evolve

That list sounds quite intimidating, especially when there aren’t nearly enough geriatric psychiatrists to go around in the first place. Luckily, electronic health record technology continues to evolve to meet the daily workflow needs of these mental health practitioners so they can spend as much of their time as possible tending to the patients who need their help. What’s more, a select few are thoughtfully developed to tend to psychiatry needs and long-term care needs simultaneously. Cloud-based systems keep patient data secure, customizable note templates, reports and assessments make for efficient and interoperable workflows, and simple designs help minimize time spent on training and troubleshooting.

Geriatric psychiatrists have little control over how many new physicians ultimately decide to join them in the mental health realm of long-term care. However, they can empower themselves and their current practices to provide higher quality patient care by utilizing the right technology. Being conscientious of their needs and adopting smart solutions like an EHR platform customized for geriatric psychiatry can help them become even more effective practitioners – and even more valuable physicians.

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