Last Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd of February, the first edition of AgeingFit exhibition took place in Lille. Health professionals and innovative companies were present to discuss about the importance of innovation for successful ageing.
One of the current major challenges in Europe is to implement policies and strategies that meet the requirements of the increasing population. In France alone, there will be 10.4 million more seniors in 2070. What are the solutions to keep the seniors in good health? According to all participants present during the exhibition, prevention is the main element to develop, by associating technology and human means.
During the conference on « co-creation », Lise Pape, director of Walkwithpath, presented two projects of her start-up:
- Pathfill helps treating sensory neuropathy, when patients lose the sensation of touch under their feet. 41 million people are allegedly affected by this disease across Europe and the United States. This neuropathy increases risk of fall and causes significant healthcare costs. This preventive innovation creates vibrations in the foot and intensifies the feeling of touch when in contact with the ground. Clinical studies were carried out with patients and the University of London.
- Pathfinder is dedicated to people suffering from Parkinson’s disease (10 million people affected across the world). One of the disease’s symptoms gives the impression of being stuck to the floor, and a loss of synchronization between your feet and your steps, causing a risk of fall. Pathfinder is a simple solution: it gives a visual indication which is stimulating and encourages people to a step further.
But for these innovations to work, health professionals need to be convinced and patients need to adopt them. Older patients may be reluctant to technology: they have never tested it, don’t understand the point of it or simply distrust innovation. Health professionals have to accept these new practices, but they mostly need to be trained throughout their career.
15% of Health Professionals Use the IoT in Their Jobs
According to a study carried out in 2016 by Withings and the MACSF (a French complementary health insurance), one quarter of health professionals use connected devices in their private lives, and one out of five has an activity tracker, representing three times more than the average number in France (IFOP, connected object observatory 2014). They are part of the « early adopters », in other words, they are among the first to have tried and used connected devices for health. But only 15% implement these objects in their surgeries.
Among the connected devices used in the surgery, we can mainly find those that help make a diagnosis (43%): electrocardiograms, blood pressure measuring devices, glucose meters, etc. Health professionals also use mobile apps, especially to browse through medical encyclopedias.
Although they don’t seem to regularly use the IoT (Internet of Things) for prevention, 75% of them think that these devices can contribute to improving prevention and 80% think that it can help patients to be more engaged about their disease. A third of them think that IoT can improve the relationship with patients and develop trust.
Distrust Against Digital Technology
Despite this positiveness, 40% are worried about medical confidentiality and digital data security. 34% are also worried about responsibility, in case an application they recommended would eventually be found to degrade a patient’s medical condition.
This distrust is an obstacle to the development of innovation. According to Jackie Marshall-Cyrus, an innovation consultant present at the exhibition, we must adjust healthcare systems, train health professionals and caregivers, analyse territorial issues, find new funding and create new funding models. The Silver economy has a rosy future.
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