Tuesday , December 18 2018

Silver Digital Patient, a New Emerging Stakeholder in Current Healthcare. ProActiveAgeing: A Case Study

Marilena IANCULESCU, Adriana ALEXANDRU
I C I Bucharest
(National Institute for R & D in Informatics)

8-10 Averescu Blvd.
011455 Bucharest 1, Romania
manina@ici.ro, adriana@ici.ro 

Abstract: Global ageing has already started to have a strong impact on society and economy. However, most national governments as well as urban and rural populations have not been adequately prepared for that so far. Elderly people are one of the most important category of healthcare consumers due to the degenerative disorders. eHealth can offer tremendous opportunities and facilities for supporting older patients to receive the most appropriate care so that they may lead a healthy, active and dignified life. An increased number of ageing people have become aware of the benefits provided by digital technology. A silver digital patient is an older person that has the skills, knowledge, literacy and willingness to use eHealth tools and services for getting better informed and more involved in managing his/her healthcare. Older patient-centered digital technology must be implemented for a broader acceptance. ProActive Ageing project is an example of that; it has as outcome an integrated platform for online services that provides useful tools for empowering ageing persons to take an even more active role in personal care related decisions and for enabling healthcare specialists to provide instruments for specific strategies, protocols and methods aimed at maintaining an adequate level of control over biologic and social functions of ageing people.

Keywords: eHealth, silver digital patient, ageing, integrated platform for online services.

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CITE THIS PAPER AS:
Marilena IANCULESCU, Adriana ALEXANDRU, 
Silver Digital Patient, a New Emerging Stakeholder in Current Healthcare. ProActiveAgeing: A Case Study, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 25(4), pp. 461-468, 2016. https://doi.org/10.24846/v25i4y201607

  1. Introduction

The age structure of the EU population is changing dramatically. Elderly people are projected to account for an increasing share of the population. Those aged 65 and over will become a much larger part (rising from 17% to 30% of the population), and those aged 80 and over (rising from 5% to 12%) will almost become as numerous as the young population in 2060. An ageing population will have a strong upward impact on public spending for long-term care. This is because frailty and disability rise sharply at older ages, especially amongst the very old (aged 80+) which will be the fastest growing segment of the population in the decades to come [10].

Specific anti-ageing medical, information and communication research and technology, healthier lifestyles have not just increased longevity but have also decreased the morbid years – when people lose their functional independence and their minds and bodies break down.

Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age [13]. Active ageing allows people to realize their potential for physical, social, and mental well-being throughout the life course and to participate in society, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they need.

Healthy ageing is the process of optimising opportunities for physical, social and mental health to enable older people to take an active part in society without discrimination and to enjoy an independent and good quality of life [6]. Healthy ageing is a broad concept including physical as well as mental health and social well-being and support the adoption and maintenance by individuals of attitudes and behaviours known to promote health and well-being. In order to help their patients to have a successful ageing, healthcare specialists should apply up-to-date good practices, strategies and research. An active ageing can’t exist without the health component and for that, new and adapted tools, services and practices must be provided both to individuals and healthcare specialists.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is essential as a source of innovation, as it enables integrated person – centred care, with more focus on prevention, early detection and independent living, to be provided in his/her own work and home environment. It can empower people to manage their health and support their healthy lifestyle choices. Therefore the market share of eHealth is expected to grow significantly:

  • The global telemedicine tools market will likely reach $43.4 billion within five years, according to a new report published by Wellesley, Massachusetts- based BCC Research;
  • The market for telehome technologies, or tools that enable outpatients to receive telehealth services, is predicted by BCC to grow from $6.5 billion in 2013 to $24 billion by 2019;
  • PWC forecasts that the global mobile health market will reach a value of €17.5 billion in 2017, with Europe being the largest market segment (€5.2 billion);
  • Berg Insight forecasts that the installed base of smart home systems in the EU will grow at a rate above 50% in the next five years to reach 17.4 million smart homes installed in by 2017;
  • McKinsey Global Institute estimates the potential economic impact of the Internet of Things to be $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion per year by 2025. Across the healthcare applications, Internet of Things technology could have an economic impact of $1.1 trillion to $2.5 trillion per year by 2025[1].

A digital patient aims to increase his/her knowledge, information and skills in the health domain in order to better manage his/her own health and care by using digital technologies. These have the huge potential to support the leveraging of the patient’s empowerment and awareness of being directly involved in the healthcare process and to allow the healthcare services to be safer, more affordable, efficient and accessible.

Figure 1 synthesizes the main characteristics of a digital patient [7].

A silver digital patient can be defined as an older patient with an appropriate level of health and IT literacy that has become more comfortable using digital technology and services.

A silver digital patient is an elderly person that has surpassed some challenges in adopting new technologies like physical disorders, skeptical attitudes about the benefits of digital technology or difficulties in learning to use new digital devices.

The new waves of ageing population are more experienced with digital technology than the current older population and much more interested

 in being engaged in their care; therefore healthcare systems have to become more convenient for patients of all ages.

Despite the growing number of elderly people that have accepted the use of digital technology as a routine in their lives, there is still an important group of older persons that are exposed to digital divide (“the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not” – Oxford Dictionary).

Bridging digital divide is a target healthcare and eHealth providers should better take into consideration in designing and implementing more appropriate digital technology.

In this context, this paper presents the ProActive Ageing project which is an integrated platform for online services that highlights the importance of applying new approaches, methods, means and researches for adopting an active, independent and healthy ageing. It focuses on developing online tools for:

  • A sustainable (re)integration of ageing persons in social and working life;
  • Enhancing the own health and independence of an ageing person, with a strong emphasis on lifelong learning, knowledge sharing;
  • Providing comprehensive training courses addressed to formal carers (specialists) of ageing persons;
  • Achieving more efficient methods of delivering improved outcomes from healthcare research, good practice and a better service to patients.

It facilitates the empowerment of the silver digital patients and ageing persons by providing tools for a more “person-centric” social and healthcare system in which individuals need to take an even more active role in personal care related decisions.

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