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Live long and prosper

5 october 2017

People globally are living longer thanks to advances in medicine and better living standards. According to the World Health Organisation, most of us can expect to live into our sixties and beyond.

By 2050, the world’s population aged 60 years and over is expected to grow by 56% and reach nearly 2.1 billion, up from 900 million today. In Asia, the rate of aging is on a larger scale than any other region. The World Bank reports that more than 211 million people aged 65 and older lived in East Asia and Pacific in 2010, and this population will grow by about 22% every five years.

Technological advances

An important trend is how technology is changing the way we deliver and receive health care. In our research, 78% say the use of digital technology in health care has the potential to bring good health to more people. In its Megatrends 2016 report, Ernst and Young says the next generation of smart health technology promises enormous change for aging populations. Digital health care via telemedicine, mobile apps, wearables, social media, and robust analytics are providing solutions to rising health care costs.

“78% say the use of digital technology in health care has the potential to bring good health to more people.”

The next generation of sensor technology will be even smaller and cheaper, with sensors embedded in tattoos and adhesive bandages, and even ingestibles. This is just the tip of the iceberg – we can only imagine the impact of self-driving cars in providing additional mobility for the elderly.

Remote patient monitoring is also increasing immediate access to health care. Disease prevention and care management through medical devices, smartphones and wearables have being implemented successfully around the world. According to our research, the majority of respondents – 59% - currently use, or plan to use health apps in the coming year. This rises to 78% in Indonesia and 81% in India.

Cigna strongly believes in leveraging technological innovations to improve access to quality health care, especially for globally mobile employees who often work in remote locations. That’s why we developed the Cigna Wellbeing app - available soon for our IGO and NGO clients. Keep an eye on our Newsroom for updates.

A brave new world

We live in an exciting world in which people live longer than ever before. Through investing in health care provision and taking a sensible approach to medical and health care insurance, private and public organisations can help the world’s aging population become a vehicle for both global growth and society advancement.

As Director General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, said: “Today, most people, even in the poorest countries, are living longer lives. But this is not enough. We need to ensure these extra years are healthy, meaningful and dignified. Achieving this will not just be good for older people; it will be good for society as a whole.”