Worldwide people are living longer, causing a significant shift in the distribution of the population toward older ages in the coming decades. As stated by the World Health Organization, between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22%. In Europe alone, according to Eurostat, people aged 80 years or above are projected to have a two-and-a-half-fold increase between 2021 and 2100. And in higher-income countries, such as Japan, this trend is already a reality with 30% of the population over 60 years old.
The longer life expectancy of the general population leads to challenges for countries to adapt to this demographic shift and to ensure their support to the elderly and their caregivers through adequate healthcare, long-term care, and social services. The global healthcare industry will need to confront these challenges by adapting its processes to the increasing demand.
Using innovative digital solutions such as non-invasive tools and devices or by improving home care aspects, insurers can become real partners to patients and caregivers by sharing the burden of care and helping patients increase their quality of life.
We have asked Johannes Wagner, ITHM Board Member, Head of Startup Cooperation at Versicherungskammer and Managing Director Bavaria Versicherungsvermittlungs-Gmbh, to share with us the emerging trends in elderly care, and Kazuya Komemoto, Innovation Manager at Dai-chi Life for his point of view as Japan is already dealing with its aging population.
What are current challenges in the field of elderly care?
Johannes Wagner: The number of people in need of care, and especially elderly care, is growing even faster than expected due to demographics and Covid-19. Professional caregivers are overworked, and private caregiving is a huge burden on families. Additionally, elderly care will become more expensive, which is why it is crucial for the whole society to take some pressure out of the system and off the caregivers. From an insurance perspective, we need to address the relevance of sufficient care coverage. The majority is actually aware that there is a sufficient probability of care-dependency, nevertheless the individual risk to depend on care is rather rated as low and the necessity for care insurance is repressed. Hence the insurance industry needs to take over an educational role, but education alone is not sufficient, as it cannot serve all the emotional aspects of taking care of for example your parents. The right approach is relevant in order to sensitize the target group to the topic, e.g. by generally turning the greatest worries into actions.
What are the trends in elderly care solutions and what are you looking for?
Johannes Wagner: We are looking for startups that are open to working together with corporate and are aware of the resulting complexity. Our goal is to offer the affected ones a self-determined life and eliminate their concerns of being a burden to others or worrying about financial constraints, as well as take pressure from their relatives. In close collaboration with startups, we want to offer our customers valuable solutions that initiate an image change and draw the necessary attention to this relevant topic.
Japan is a pioneer when it comes to caring for seniors, what can German insurance companies learn from your experience?
Kazuya Komemoto: Many insurers in Japan, such as us at Daichi Life, actively promote the development of attractive products and services, and activities related to elderly care. We monitor the elderly through a partnership with the county. Through day-to-day activities, our system is designed to look after the safety and security of the elderly, while ensuring smooth cooperation with the government and relevant agencies in the event of an emergency. The insurers provide a wide range of high-quality care services that support the ‘safe, secure and healthy’ lives of their customers.
For our H+ Digital Health Innovation Programme we have selected the following elderly care startups which focus on non-invasive and data-driven solutions:
DigiRehab is a customized and cost-effective digital exercise program used in geriatric care that sustainably improves the quality of life of staff and patients in inpatient and outpatient care facilities.
Ecaria helps caring people to care for their relatives in the best way possible with digital tools, care advice, and smart learning. They aim to become the go-to place for digitally empowered and personalized care advice enabling people in a care situation to get the job done along the entire care journey and also take care of themselves.
Jane is a future-oriented care solution that combines alarm buttons, care rules, and pattern recognition. In doing so, they reduce the workload of caregivers and increase the safety of care recipients – both inside and outside the walls of healthcare institutions.
Somatix offers a passive, continuous, and non-invasive way to monitor those under care. Leveraging unique and patented wearable-enabled gesture detection algorithms, Somatix provides powerful clinical insights and predictive analytics on user health, safety, and wellbeing through their platform, SafeBeing.
Text: Gaia Ravazzi