BioScience Trends. 2015;9(1):1-6. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2015.01025)
Public policy response, aging in place, and big data platforms: Creating an effective collaborative system to cope with aging of the population.
Song PP, Chen Y
The unprecedented rapid aging of the population is poised to become the next global public health challenge, as is apparent by the fact that 23.1% of the total global burden of disease is attributable to disorders in people aged 60 years and older. Aging of the population is the biggest driver of substantial increases in the prevalence of chronic conditions, and the prevalence of multi-morbidity is much higher in older age groups. This places a large burden on countries' health and long-term care systems. Many behavioral changes and public policy responses to aging of the population have been implemented to cope with these challenges. A system of "aging in place" has been implemented in some high-income countries in order to better provide coordinated and cost-effective health services for the elderly. This approach reduces institutional care while supporting home- or community-based care and other services. Advances in information and communications technology (ICT), assistive devices, medical diagnostics, and interventions offer many ways of more efficiently providing long-term care as part of aging in place. The use of big data on a web services platform in an effective collaborative system should promote systematic data gathering to integrate clinical and public health information systems to provide support across the continuum of care. However, the use of big data in collaborative system is a double-edged sword, as it also bring challenges for information sharing, standardized data gathering, and the security of personal information, that warrant full attention.