The Rising Demands of Senior and Chronic Care
America's aging population presents problems and opportunities in the health care industry; The oldest of the Baby Boomer generation-the 78 million people born between 1946 and 1964-turn 61 this year, but this is only the beginning of the "elder boom" that will occur as this generation ages. These patients will need specialty care from a health system that already has had serious difficulties running efficiently without a large influx of seniors needing extra attention. Certainly quality initiatives and patient-safety programs underway could help lay a better foundation for the needs of the Baby Boomer generation. Part of the solution will have to come from technology, and innovations in remote and self monitoring are already underway.
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Modeled after advanced computers used in industrial applications, such as automotives, Proteus Biomedical hopes to bring what it calls pervasive computing to treat chronic conditions such as chronic heart failure and, later on, others. The company's approach combines device and drug therapy in an innovative kind of combination products; in the process, says Proteus, it will define not just a new category of medical products but also shape a new competitive landscape.
Remote patient monitoring technologies, have, for years held the promise that they would improve health care by providing physicians with data that would help them intervene and maintain the health of groups of patients who are otherwise prone to exacerbations of illness that land them in the hospital from time to time. In particular, health care constituencies have been looking to telemonitoring to solve problems of chronic illnesses. The premise is that the information gleaned from remote monitoring devices can help keep the chronically ill out of the most expensive care settings like the emergency room. But the remote patient management markets have been slow to materialize for several reasons, not the least of which is lack of reimbursement. For in chronic illnesses, remote patient monitoring technologies become tools of a disease management framework, with all of the uncertainties around the economics and business models of disease management.
Three central European industry associations have agreed to develop joint initiatives and form a collective voice with which to lobby decision-makers on medtech themes of mutual interest.