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by GK Strategy 1st March, 2018

Could the ‘silver swiper’ save the NHS?

It is almost impossible to open a newspaper without reading that the NHS is under strain.

A winter crisis, funding squeezes, rising demand, and an ageing population with complex medical needs are combining to exert huge pressure across the entire system.

To address these pressures, the way in which health care is delivered requires radical change.

There is a pressing need to boost the role patients play in their own health and care. Crucial to this transformation is the health technology market for the elderly.

In the UK, around 1m of the nation’s elderly receive care at home, and this number is only going to grow – the sheer size of the market has understandably attracted the interest of investors.

Crucially, technologies such as ‘telehealth’ and ‘telecare’, which monitor and collect patient data, can actually provide considerable cost savings to the NHS by reducing pressure on the frontline, so offer both public and private revenue models for providers.

Trials of some telecare products have shown reductions in hospital bed days of 14%, emergency admissions by 20%, and mortality rates by 45% so meet the elusive criteria of both saving money and improving outcomes.

The idea that older generations are unfamiliar with technology is no longer true – smartphone use in the over-50s is increasing fast, with adoption amongst 55-75 year olds has reached 71%, surpassing the rate across all UK adults in 2014.

This is only set to increase as more and more “digital natives”, those who have grown up with the internet and social media, becoming responsible for their parents care – logic suggests they will increasingly look towards technology for solutions.

The ‘silver swiper’ is already a major contributor to online growth and brands are specifically targeting this demographic, which should be no great surprise when you learn that over half of the UK’s £11 trillion in wealth is owned by the 52-71 age group.

As health technology continues to advance, it should be increasingly tailored towards the elderly, half of which have yet to reach retirement age. Whilst technology remains a challenging area for investment with a potential high risk of failure, the potential benefits to a successful product are enormous and the market is only set to grow.

The digital healthcare market, which puts the patient at its centre, presents the ‘silver swiper’ with opportunities to manage and improve the quality of their care, catering to specific individual needs without the need for medical intervention.

Furthermore, through the increased use of wearable devices, apps, online communities and patient portals, the health technology market for the elderly could hold the key to revolutionising the way we deliver care, and to ensure that the NHS remains viable.

If it takes off, then the older generation might transform themselves from a drag on public health finance to being its saviour.

Watch this space.

For information on how GK can help you navigate the regulatory landscape of digital healthcare, get in touch with jack@gkstrategy.com

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