BOSTON – There will be more people in the World over the age of 65 than under 5 in just three years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and 16% of the world’s population will be at least that age by 2025. Health care forecasts are calling for a shortage of doctors and nurses to care for aging adults in years to come.
“If we don’t think about how we’re going to change the way we deliver health care, we’re going to run out of caregivers,” said Dr. Joe Kvedar in his keynote address last week at the Connected Health Conference in Boston.
Kvedar, vice president of connected health at Partners HealthCare, said that today’s health care delivery model is a one-to-one system, but that connected health presents a way to make a model that is more efficient, less expensive and one that taps into the growing trend of consumerism in health care.
“People over the age of 50 present a huge opportunity for connected health today,” Kvedar said. “The challenge is figuring out how we turn aging from a burden to an opportunity and create a new kind of ‘old’.”
Health care technology needs to be designed for an extended health span as the country’s population is living an average of 25 years longer than in years past, Kvedar said. Health care platforms, devices and systems must address the issue of chronic illness management that expands the reach of providers.
Technology can address the three major predictors of aging health, Kvedar said, by giving seniors a sense of purpose, social connection and outlets for physical activity.
“As we live longer, our bodies will eventually begin to give out and we will have more touches with the health system,” he said. “Connected health allows one care provider to manage hundreds of patients and, if you set it up right, the patients will feel well-cared-for and well-connected.”