3 minute read 24 Aug 2018
senior couple motorbike

How new partnerships can close the gap between healthy aging and ‘growing old’

By

Pamela Spence

EY Global Health Sciences and Wellness Industry Leader and Life Sciences Industry Leader

Ambassador for outcomes-based performance and healthy aging. Advocate for women.

3 minute read 24 Aug 2018

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As life expectancy increases, there remains a sizeable gap between life span and health span — the years an individual lives without disease.

I’m amazed when I think of the gains we’ve made in extending the human life span. Unfortunately, with the increase in Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes and more, living longer doesn’t necessarily mean living “better.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. We need to find ways to narrow the gap between how long we live and how well we live. New technology, improved analytics and consumer engagement offer ways to get there. But we should also consider creative partnerships that span a wide range of organizations from both the public and private sectors and a wide range of industries.

We need to come together, not locally or regionally, but globally. Creating the right environment for collaboration requires the following elements:

1. A shared vision

Different stakeholder groups bring unique skills or resources. These can include:

  • Innovation, such as new technologies that allow the cost-effective management of diseases related to aging
  • Data that, when analyzed, can demonstrate value
  • Capital that can manage the financial risks associated with new technology
  • Deployment plans that can be scaled to make a real impact

2. Metrics that define optimal health

To create dynamic, cross-sector partnerships, stakeholders will want to build a foundation based on healthy aging metrics that define optimal health at an individual level.

Metrics can and should be based on a combination of genetic and environmental information, as well as an individual’s health goals and his or her ability to make healthy decisions.

Benchmarks that define healthy aging have the power to fortify creative partnerships, especially those created to improve health outcomes for some of the most prevalent and costly non-communicable diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease.

3. Infrastructure investment

Infrastructure in this context comes in two forms: infrastructure that supports data collection, as well as safe and appropriate intellectual property (IP) sharing that can bridge gaps among non-traditional partners; and financing to either support the development and deployment of new solutions, or investments in opportunities that offer a high social impact.

4. Governments taking an active role

Governments need to play a critical role in building inclusive ecosystems that foster lifelong wellness. They are the largest players in most countries, and they have the ability to scale successful projects to levels that can have a significant and measurable impact.

Public private partnerships (PPPs) are one way for governments to stimulate investment in healthy aging infrastructure. They can provide stability for long-term projects, particularly early in the development stage when risks are higher than many private sector investors are willing to take.

Big potential, bigger reward

Already, there are a number of cross-industry partnerships that have the potential to make a difference.

  • In one example, a senior’s health care provider and a ridesharing company have partnered to provide non-emergency transportation to patients.
  • In another example, two technology companies have partnered with a government to provide touch-points to seniors through cloud-connected tablets, while postal workers provide a regular point of personal contact in connecting individuals to care providers, family and friends.

 

We need to come together, not locally or regionally, but globally.

As individuals, each one of us is on an aging journey. But our journey is not one that we travel alone. From family and friends to caregivers to health care providers, government agencies and beyond, aging becomes a collective experience.

Our success at making a shift to lifelong wellness depends on traditional and non-traditional partners working together toward a common goal: to live long and live well with joy, dignity and connection.

Summary

Opportunities abound for the creative bundling of services and payment models for end-of-life care.

About this article

By

Pamela Spence

EY Global Health Sciences and Wellness Industry Leader and Life Sciences Industry Leader

Ambassador for outcomes-based performance and healthy aging. Advocate for women.