Industry Outlook & Insights
Aging has taken on a persona of its own. It is not just about people getting older, it represents a fundamental paradigm shift about how we live, work and achieve fulfilling lives. It also entails dramatic decreases in the size of the productive workforce, the number of qualified physicians and the availability of care givers across society. Whether it is called the “Silver Tsunami,” the “Longevity Economy” or the “Silver Economy,” the realities, opportunities and risks are ever more present. Longevity is an all-encompassing megatrend with social, political, economic and security implications that will impact governments, nations, companies and health care.
The percentage of the world’s population over 60 years of age will jump from 12% to 22% between 2000 and 2050, and for those over 80 it will quadruple. In the U.S. alone, 15.6% of the population is now over 65 and by 2030 this will increase to 20.6%. Japan, with nearly 100,000 citizens who have reached the age of 100 or older, and Finland are two of the fastest “graying” and “super graying” populations, with Europe not too far behind.
Health care systems are watching, acting and learning. With aging comes geriatric diseases, comorbidities and loneliness. The need to diagnose these disease states faster and more accurately is critical. Digital technologies have proven to be valuable assets, though more computational horsepower is needed to optimize them and address anticipated future needs. Physicians are also relying on AI-based automation fueled by automatic tracking of biometric information for certain tasks. AI is also helping patients and their families understand diseases and treatment options. But is the key AI or IA, intelligence augmentation, where machines extend human capabilities instead of replacing them? Human versus machine is a tricky subject. People need to feel comfortable for the technology to work and deliver impact. Referred to as the “uncanny valley,” the balance between man and robot interaction still needs work.
A recent Smithsonian article states “The tension between what technology can now do and how much older people actually use it is at the heart of what’s become known as ‘connected aging.’” Experts in aging, health care, policy and technology from Japan, Finland, Australia, the U.K. and U.S. will discuss this exciting opportunity and how their countries are leveraging digital platforms, AI and other cutting-edge technologies for elderly care and economic benefit.