In its 2017 Health Trends Report, Harnessing the Power of Data in Health, Stanford Medicine predicted:
“A focus on data in the coming years has the potential to make health care more preventive, predictive and personalized, meaningfully reduce health care costs and lead to better patient outcomes.”
As we look toward 2018, this potential is still growing. Data remains the key to the most important developments in connected health for decades to come.
As digital health technology gains broader acceptance across all demographic groups—and big data analysis generates insights into disease prevention—innovative organizations have the opportunity to use technology to keep older adults healthier longer, support more independent lifestyles, and better manage chronic conditions.
Here are five connected health trends to keep an eye on:
- Artificial intelligence (AI). AI allows organizations to process vast amounts of data generated through electronic health records, genetic research, disease prevention, and the creation of new drugs. Expect to see healthcare organizations begin to leverage AI, predictive analytics and improved targeting to better support care managers, who are constantly asked to do more with less for an aging population.
- Remote monitoring technology. Passive remote monitoring solutions, such as Lively Home by GreatCall and other smart home technology, enable older adults to stay in their homes longer and avoid unecessary hospitalizations. Unlike other monitoring solutions, this technology doesn’t require active participation to ensure compliance, which can be a significant obstacle for seniors. Homes equipped with wireless sensors can automatically gather and collect critical data about activities of daily living, monitor health conditions, and deliver actionable insights to case managers.
- Health apps. With over three billion smartphones now in use globally, individuals of all ages have access to a rapid proliferation of health management apps that can record vital health statics, medical conditions, and their every move. Look for increased attention to accessibility, intuitive interfaces that support gestures or other cues, and designs tailored to meet the needs of a growing population of older adults.
- Wearables. Once the exclusive domain of recreational fitness warriors, wearable technology will be adopted by a broader swath of the population to detect emerging health issues. As noted by Stanford Medicine, individuals “will no longer need to feel physical illness to prompt them to seek medical attention. The promise of wearables is in the ability to detect and therefore treat illness at an earlier stage.”
In fact, according to a recent PwC report, The Wearable Life 2.0, a majority of people now say that they would be “excited to experience” wearable technology provided by a doctor (65 percent), a hospital (62 percent), or a health insurance company (62 percent).
- Digital health with human coaching. With the opportunity to gather more data through digital devices and use the results to personalize coaching and , look for improved methods of managing or preventing chronic diseases. Organizations that can pair technology with one-on-one personal services will be better able to support the needs of frail seniors who are living longer, often with multiple chronic conditions.
By 2060 the share of the total population age 65 and older will increase dramatically from 15 percent to nearly 24 percent, which means that the ratio of caregivers to seniors will continue to drop.
Adopting new technology is essential for healthcare organizations that want to prepare to serve the growing number of older adults while providing better care. Of course, technology alone cannot meet these challenges. It will also take a human touch—from the ingenuity of design factors to thoughtful one-on-one engagement with older adults. Innovative organizations will find new ways to pair technology with their services to reduce costs, improve health outcomes, and create better experiences for seniors.