Canadian Experts Suggest a ‘Perfect Storm’ is Brewing in Digital Healthcare

The world is getting older and so are we. There are more people over 60 years old today than there has been in the history of the world—then again, there are also more people over 80 and 100.

We all know how to be healthy, eat well, exercise and relax; but if you ask any baby boomer, 85% would say they aren’t eating enough vegetables, 62% would say they are overweight or obese, 20% aren’t exercising, 30% are stressed—yet 80% would say that they would get a clean bill of health from the doctor.

At Interface 2013 Digital Health Summit, Dr. Douglas Clement of the Heart and Stroke Foundation addressed the forecasted perfect storm of health care. It’s looming over the horizon and it is time for the digital health community to act.

“We are seeing now in many parts of the world the reduction of birthrates has gone from eight per woman to less than two—which is not replacement,” said Dr. Clement during his keynote presentation earlier this month. “At one point we are getting an aging population and on the other side we are not having children coming along behind them. This is going to increase the average age of individuals drastically.”

This global change will impact the funding and care of organizations and the health care systems. Digital health care revolution will shift the landscape from a physician centric, disease orientated and hospital-based to a consumer-driven, wellness-focused and a system that measures personal biometrics. This will generate data, devices and other monitoring systems to measure each individual’s needs.

The convergence of genomics and handheld and wearable devices will enable all of us to have our own personal dashboard, an efficient way of viewing our electronic health records (EMR). Interface 2013 hosted numerous companies making innovative advancements from Lions Gate Technologies’ Phone Oximeter, which uses smartphones to measure blood oxygen and heart rate to Proteus Digital Health’s consumable sensor and the wearable patch, which work together to capture data about you and relays it to your smartphone.

“The current paradigm in health care,” said Arna Ionescu, vice-president of Proteus Digital Health, “is that you go to the doctor and the doctor fixes you. That kind of works when you have an acute ailment, the doctor prescribes antibiotic or puts you on a splint—but when you have a chronic condition that fundamentally doesn’t work anymore. Because a chronic condition needs to be managed each and every day and doctors needs to know what happens each and every day to make effective decisions.”

Medicines work—but 60% aren’t taking them as prescribed, because life is chaotic and habits are difficult to instill. But with the Internet available on so many devices, data is assessable as well. Data is powering the world of digital health, companies like Proteus Digital Health, Fatigue Science, Recon Instrument, Misfit Wearables and Medeo are all utilizing the limitless possibility of technology to gain more clarity of how to help the aging public and the changing ecosystem of medical care.

“Today [October 10] I read in the paper that there are 70% of graduates do not have jobs in medicine,” said Dr. Clement. “This is a problem. The physician’s role is going to have to shift into the technological side, because we are likely to see much of the advice given by robotic-type systems on the computer.”

Dr. Clement added, “As transportation is moving to driverless vehicles, health care is moving to biomedical sensors.”