Integrated elderly care: challenges and opportunities
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The solution often proposed for the growing problem of packed out public hospitals, an apparent shortage of beds and a less than optimal medical staff to patient ratio is to invest more cash, suggests Professor Frank Chen Youhua, Chair Professor of Management Sciences and Head of the Department of Management Sciences at City University of Hong Kong.
But while extra financial help would be appreciated, a more holistic approach to integrated care over the long term is more likely to assuage the burden that a public healthcare system experiences in the era of greater longevity, said the speaker in his talk “Integrated elderly care: challenges and opportunities”, the latest in the President’s Lecture Series: Excellence in Academia held on 5 March.
Professor Chen, an expert in healthcare management and supply chains, explained that a person-centred care system can be built on what he referred to as an “Elderly Ecosystem”- not disease-based, but population-based and taking into account of the holistic needs of elderly.
Such a system begins with assistive technology that can reduce the demand on human resources in the community including areas such as adaptive clothing, management of medication, meal preparation, video monitoring and gadgets and devices designed to oversee the elderly.
This individual-level approach could exploit artificial intelligence-assisted individualised care planning for chronic disease management, fall prevention, mild cognitive impairment interventions, and so forth, Professor Chen argued.
At the organisation level, he continued, the allocation of resources and the optimisation of services could be improved using data-driven analytics, for example using modeling to determine hidden risks, i.e. the risk of disease, falls, depression, and so forth among those in the community not under care, i.e. those members of society off the radar who are at risk but who in all likelihood will make use of the public system in the future.
“As the population continues to age, surveillance and modelling of health and disease at the public health level can be a preventative means of reducing stress on public health systems leading to the long-term sustainability of healthcare,” Professor Chen said.