Skip to main content
Home » Senior Health » Digital technology can support a holistic approach to healthy ageing
Senior Health Q3 2022

Digital technology can support a holistic approach to healthy ageing

iStock / Getty Images Plus / NatalyaBurova

Graham Armitage

Managing Director, EIT Health Ireland-UK

Since modern health systems were established, demographic ageing has substantially changed our healthcare needs. Acute care needs have been replaced by the growing prevalence of chronic diseases.

In 2019, 35.7% of the EU population aged 16 and over reported having a long-standing illness. For many patients, the goal is not the cure — but getting back to living the best life possible.

Real health issues

Health should not be considered a standalone issue. As we age, it is intrinsic to our lives and the way we want to live. Health blurs with social care and our social interactions. Our care circle spreads beyond a handful of health professionals. 

Chronic disease is complex, dynamic and enduring. Capturing, recording, processing and sharing detailed information — as it changes with time — creates huge flows of data. Too much to rely on paper records alone.

Digital health benefits

Digital health can provide a more holistic approach to meeting a patient’s needs while capturing data.

Often, the narrative has been one of cost savings, but digital health interventions also offer improvements in the quality of care and its outcomes. Making digital technologies more widely available means patient needs can be met with teleconsulting and remote monitoring — reducing the time and resources associated with attending in-person appointments.

Remote monitoring tools facilitate frequent and real-time measurement of vital signs. Patients can track trends and changes in their data with artificial intelligence and securely share this data with carers. They could even predict a critical event to avoid crisis hospitalisation. 

Digital health can provide a more holistic approach to meeting a patient’s needs while capturing data.

Assistive technology

EIT Health-supported startup MiiCare provides AI-based assistive technology to help elderly people living alone manage their health. They can set personalised medication alerts and reminders, track rest or body vitals and monitor hydration. The advanced AI predicts expected health problems, helping to prevent these via emergency voice command.

There are many innovative digital health companies in Europe, supported by organisations like EIT Health, working hard to leverage new technology that optimises the ageing experience. By placing the patient at the centre of the design process, it becomes much simpler for the elderly or those less digitally savvy to adopt these tools into everyday life. 

To support digital health companies as they continue developing solutions for healthy ageing, we must provide speedy and efficient methods for evaluating and reimbursing them. Nations that already have mechanisms in place to do this will benefit not only through improved care and efficiencies but also economic growth through innovation.

EIT Health is Europe’s largest health network, made up of business, research, education, and health service delivery organisations. The network facilitates healthcare professionals, entrepreneurs, educators, learners, researchers, patients, and clinicians accelerate innovations into European markets. Supports include pan-European training, public and private financing, mentorship programmes, consortium building, and collaboration opportunities.

Next article