It is a difficult truth that one of the greatest achievements of modern times – the overall global advance of public health – has created one of humanity's most pressing dilemmas. Around the world, healthcare systems are under strain as populations swell and grow older, helped by the extension of sanitation and medical services, as well as breakthroughs in technology and disease treatment. By 2050, the proportion of the world's population over 60 will nearly double to 22%, according to the World Health Organization. Much of this growth will be concentrated in low and middle-income countries, where many people already lack access to health services and infrastructure. The aging trend will also drive the need for palliative care and the treatment of chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes and dementia, which require significant resources and long-term commitment on the parts of both patient and healthcare system.
Meeting these emerging challenges will require a new approach to healthcare; one that applies technology to address the communication gaps between the various parts of a healthcare system and create a constant feedback loop between patients and the institutions and healthcare professionals that provide treatment. This 'connected care' facilitates the integration of all parts of the health system, from patients and their carers, family and friends to doctors to hospitals to insurers and governments. It is based on real-time communication, enabled through emerging technologies that include secure networks, linking software and devices that monitor key health indicators. It is underpinned by three core tenets: increasing access to healthcare, integrating systems, and promoting the adoption of connected technology – all of which combine to enhance efficiency and outcomes.
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