2,4 millions € budget, co-funded by the EU, to tackle the challenge of an upcoming age-quake.
Rapidly ageing societies, increased prevalence of new chronic conditions and multiple morbidities call for innovative approaches and technologies and international collaboration.
Nowadays, the population is rapidly ageing in both, industrialised countries and emerging economies.
In addition, the right for a universal healthcare coverage notwithstanding ever rising medical costs, changing lifestyles (sedentary lives, as an example) feeding a diabetes epidemic, as well as an increased prevalence of new chronic conditions and multiple morbidities represent only a few out of a larger number of areas where the healthcare burden – in individual regions and globally – need to be substantially alleviated.
Sustainability of the healthcare systems and economies both in the EU and the Strategic Partner Countries (USA, Canada, Japan, China and South Korea) will increasingly depend on how these challenges are tackled. These regions are already sharing a booming digital health industry, which will be key to providing a response to the challenge. But its full potential still needs to be unleashed. Broader adoption and patient engagement need to be promoted, patient empowerment to be democratised and no patient should be left behind – in particular ‘at risk populations’ like seniors. Therefore, the entire health system and its multiple stakeholders need to be engaged towards a digital transformation. There is a need to look closer at similarities and differences between healthcare systems, the core services they offer that either work or don’t’ for their population, as well as innovative approaches and technologies already in place that have so far helped to tackle each region’s challenges.
Health risks need prevention, treatment of health issues needs assistance, access of innovations not only for the elderly but also to other patient groups need acceleration.
Digital solutions might play a major role here, but due to prescription regulations, reimbursement rules or technical issues or the sheer acceptance of new generations of thera-diagnostics, often do not find their way to the patient.
While health care systems are very divergent from one country or region to the next, these territories have entered a borderless digital health era that is here to stay and everyday sees a varied set of innovations viable or not hitting the market. According to estimations of Health 2.0 LLC, investments in digital health represented over 6bn € in 2017. In parallel, extensive research investment is being mobilised to keep pace with the rapid technological developments and new framework conditions. An upcoming global crisis can be translated into an economic opportunity and thus trigger a vibrant silver economy, when intrinsic weaknesses, especially those challenges that are hardly to be tackled at a local level are recognised as global issues beyond borders.
Health systems around the world can and should learn from each other. Sharing experiences, innovative approaches and best practices will be key to accelerate the progress of individual regions in tackling their own challenges.
Every country has specific strengths:
- the US has a well-oiled investment system and is strong on transforming innovations into economic opportunities,
- Japan is very advanced in e.g. robotics, • China is advanced in high-performance computing,
- Japan and South Korea are excelling in proliferating mobile health solutions in their markets and beyond, and
- Europe can leverage on privacy and data sharing through primary and secondary use.
Therefore, concerted innovation and research, joint efforts and mutual learning for the benefit of the society and industry on a global level is vital.
Promoting and increasing international collaboration to support active and healthy ageing through innovation.
The aim of the IDIH project is to promote and increase international collaboration to advance digital health in the EU and key Strategic Partner Countries to support active and healthy ageing (AHA) through innovation.
IDIH will operate as a catalyst for the international dialogue in digital health. On the basis of identified key opportunities and shared priorities for global cooperation in digital health, the IDIH project will set up a Digital Health Transformation Forum as umbrella and long-lasting and expert-driven mechanism to foster collaboration between the EU and five Strategic Partner Countries (i.e. the USA, Canada, China, Japan and South Korea).
More in detail, IDIH has set the following high-level objectives:
- Support the definition of common priorities to enhance strategic international cooperation in digital health for active and healthy ageing in line with policy orientations
- Provide specific contributions to the international dialogue in digital health for AHA
- Facilitate the exchange between RTI stakeholders from the EU and Strategic Partner Countries in digital health for AHA • Foster international collaboration for digital solutions for health care benefitting the society and industry
An expert-driven approach will ensure the involvement of RDI and policy stakeholders, as well as user associations where relevant.
The IDIH project will take the context of society, technology and industry, but also the policy framework into account for the development of international cooperation activities in the digital transformation of health and care. As IDIH partners have close links to funding authorities in all countries/regions, their work and opinion will be gathered to ensure an alignment with priorities.
The framework of the EU and all Strategic Partner Countries are the basis on which the project concept is established. As a main element for effective international cooperation is the alignment and agreement of priorities, the IDIH project shall work on four key topics that are common priorities in all countries/regions involved. These priorities are preventive care, integrated care, independent and connected living, and inclusive living.
Digital technologies can be deployed as solutions in various research and innovation areas and can substantially support health care worldwide. As shown, the EU and the Strategic Partner Countries face common challenges, but there is a clear potential for mutual learning on the deployment of digital solutions to foster active and healthy aging.
Each country/region brings its territory’s economic, cultural and societal aspects into play and has developed strategies and techniques to tackle the challenge of an ageing society. In addition, numerous initiatives have been set up that work in this field. These different aspects are of great value and can clearly foster active and healthy ageing on a global level, when being exchanged in an open process. Positive impact is expected for society, above all for the patients, but it can clearly be expected that research and development (R&D) collaboration and market opportunities for industry players will arise from an open policy dialogue in the field. But only when common priorities are defined and an exchange platform for Research, Innovation and Policy experts is established, a roadmap for international cooperation can be developed and deployed in a sustainable way to benefit all.
To achieve its goals, IDIH has chosen an expert-driven approach, and will set-up four Expert Groups composed of stakeholders from the EU and the five Strategic Partner Countries, who will specifically work on the core aspects that regroup the priorities of the EU and all Strategic Partner Countries.