Speaking at the White House Conference on Aging, held only once a decade, Barrett said, “This is a golden moment to bring government, healthcare professionals, industry and academia together to accelerate innovation and investment for this critical national issue.”
With nearly 35 million senior citizens in the United States, the country already spends 16 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare. Forecasters estimate that 25 percent of the nation’s GDP will go toward healthcare as the number of senior citizens doubles during the next 20 to 30 years. Barrett said the country’s economy cannot keep pace with the soaring costs of caring for an aging society.
“We can make the healthcare system more cost-efficient while simultaneously improving the quality of care and life for our nation’s aging population,” said Barrett. “No company, no industry, no country can afford to ignore the economic and social impact this wave of aging people will create.”
Developing technologies to keep people well and moving care from the hospital to the home are central to transforming the healthcare system, according to Barrett.
“A broad range of personal health technologies designed to go into the home hold hope for seniors to ‘age in place,’ maintaining their independence and deferring costly institutional care,” he said.
He pointed to new computer-based technologies and innovations in sensors, software and wireless technologies that can allow such vital information as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and sleep patterns to be tracked remotely. Broadband Internet connectivity allows the data to be shared real-time between seniors and healthcare professionals, as well as amongst family members and friends who deliver the majority of care to seniors.