New technology solutions for successful ageing
"The Smart Elderly Care @ Home Centre aims to be a platform for developing the security, standards and interoperability requirements for such technology in the industry from an independent perspective."
Foo Soo Guan
Vice President, Digital Service, TÜV SÜD
Friday, January 5, 2018
Singapore is becoming one of the fastest ageing countries in the world. The number of elderly citizens is expected to triple to 900,000 by 2030. Singapore’s Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong shared earlier this year that a 2050 trend projection indicates that the population pyramid will be inverted, even with immigration.
The ageing population, coupled with a low birth rate points to a declining elderly support ratio, placing an increased strain on labour in healthcare. It is estimated that around 9,000 more people will be needed over the next three years to meet the public healthcare and community care needs.
Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has taken a three-pronged approach to meet long-term healthcare needs sustainably. While ageing is one part of the problem, the other is that there is a rise in chronic disease incidences too. Not only is demand for healthcare rising, so is the complexity of treatment and advisory required.
The first part of the approach is to move beyond healthcare to health. Prevention as they say is always better than cure. Promotion of health then becomes the priority – the pre-emptive measure to manage and nurture the health and wellbeing of Singaporeans. Second is to move beyond hospitals to communities – transforming healthcare delivery and shifting care services from hospitals out to the people in their community or homes. Finally, to move beyond quality to value, to ensure appropriate and cost-effective care.
Smart healthcare is the obvious choice in this digitalised world, where robotics and automation have become necessities to move industry and business forward. But there is the continued concern that smart technology will replace jobs, especially so in healthcare where the human touch is a necessary part of service. We can however look at things from a different perspective: Smart technology enables healthcare professionals, caregivers and patients.
At a time when there is a worrying manpower resource crunch in the sector, smart technology allows doctors and medical professionals to focus on their key role – to care for, advise, and see patients through their medical treatment. Technology on the other hand would free doctors and healthcare professionals from the tedious but essential administrative and data-related work. Patients too benefit, as they would then have greater autonomy over their treatment and advisory options, and will be able to spend more time in the comfort of their own homes and with loved ones.
TÜV SÜD recently launched Smart Elderly Care @ Home Centre in October 2017. TÜV SÜD’s partners from the healthcare industry has provided the feedback that the ideas behind the smart elderly care solutions today are very abstract and disparate. Standardisation and safety review are necessary to increase the adoption of such novel technologies.
Smart Elderly Care @ Home Centre was the answer to provide a tangible, operational system that is robust, modular and flexible. The centre creates a living platform for TÜV SÜD and partners to testbed the safety, security, reliability and interoperability of Smart Elderly Care @ Home solutions.
The centre has two simulated home environments and a control room that showcases scenarios of how various stakeholders can communicate with the elderly. In the simulated home environment, there is a living room and bedroom scenarios to show how the elderly person could receive advice in different situations to leverage the appropriate technology for proactive health management. The living room features an elderly person “living independently and managing chronic diseases” while the bedroom features an elderly person undergoing “post-op recovery and chronic disease management”. The control room provides an overview of the patients’ status for all the stakeholders involved in keeping track of and responding to the elderly’s needs where necessary.
In this way, both partners, and in the future patients, would have a better understanding of how smart healthcare technologies such as a robot would be able to provide physiotherapy services remotely or convey a doctors’ instructions or prescriptions. Other smart healthcare solutions can leverage mobile devices and laptops working in tandem with wireless sensors to send information and data to family members, hospitals or home care teams.
TÜV SÜD’s mid-term goal is to develop a standard or set of guidelines to define the safety, security, reliability and interoperability criteria for healthcare operators, system operators and technology providers for the implementation and operation of a fit-for-purpose Smart Elderly Care solution. This includes data consolidation and exchange, data privacy and security, interface protocol for ease of communication, as well as hardware and certification requirements. While the focus now is on elder care, TÜV SÜD aims to expand beyond that into the wider healthcare ecosystem.
These are exciting times, as many organisations have a vested interest in contributing to easing the burden of healthcare and elder care in Singapore. We cannot hope to achieve all of this alone, as we continue to partner with both private and public organisations, from Camanio Care and Gevity to NTUC Health.
If you’re looking to find out more about Smart Elderly Care, contact us to speak to an expert and find out how we can collaborate for a better healthcare future.