Wednesday 9 September 2015, 17:15 | By Adam Hallows
In the news Sep 2015 – Get Up, Stand Up!
This week, CSL has been very active on the blog front; offering a fascinating insight to the world of Gerentechnology by Dr Alexander Peine and then another, Ibiza-infused piece, from CSL’s own Ian Spero. Together they explore the huge economic potential of the Silver Economy, and what our collective health futures could look like through the concept of what CSL calls ‘Agile Ageing™’.
As they ready to promote these concepts across Europe in the coming months, we take a look here at a few examples of what else is happening today, to inform how we may age tomorrow.
As we discussed in August’s news, tech is already being developed to dramatically cut the cost of improving people’s lives. But, as this article argues, due to the growing obesity and type 2 diabetes crisis, we also need more technology to inform us when things are wrong before we get there.
One such example is Google’s ‘smart contact lens’, which:
“…has an embedded sensor that measures the glucose level in your tears every second and transmits that data to a device (i.e. a smartphone) where it can be displayed or transmitted to a medical professional. It can also change colour if glucose levels fall below or rise above specific levels.”
This is exciting stuff, but with every new piece of technology like this, comes the question of how we pay for its adoption when we already spend so much on treating the results of our current lifestyles. It is assumed greater awareness will change behaviour, but as ‘Sugar Rush’, Jamie Oliver’s recent shock TV documentary suggests, perhaps the only way to cover the cost of things like greater sugar consumption today, is through taxation.
There is of course education and regulation, but as one interviewee in the documentary said, it has taken a generation to understand what calories mean so how far will greater labelling of sugar go?
We say that in the face of epidemics, we have no choice but to shock ourselves with the realities of our own health, inform through every channel possible, tax where appropriate to pay for our demands on the health service, and educate from birth to raise a generation that is not so reliant on the health system as we are now.
If we want to be agile while ageing, then we can’t do it sitting down in front of the TV eating snacks.
GAMBLING ON TECH
One industry already using real-time technology to monitor health and change behaviour, isn’t doing it for mankind. Or at least not directly. This article we shared recently, concluded that one of its practitioners, race horse trainer Aiden O’Brien, ‘should be lecturing at The Royal College of Surgeons’.
In it, we learnt that diet, interior design and remote monitoring are all used with exacting detail to create as healthy and happy an environment as possible for the horses, with things such as where coats are hung being almost as important as what they eat.
“…contrast this with your average Hospital ward where no one has any idea about any of the Patients heart rates (or the rates of the stressed out staff who are ticking boxes on clipboards to make it look like there are quality controls and pulling their backs lugging about bundles of paper folders containing reams of data they haven’t a hope of processing).” mHealthInsight.com
They key here is motivation. The gains are obviously worth it for their owners and so they do whatever they need to, so the question is, how might we make ourselves as important as the horses are to their owners?
We think a starting point should be our health practitioners. If their working environment was considered as important as the results they delivered, they could then deliver care in a truly agile environment – one where everyone’s health is monitored via whatever device they had to hand. We think that’s worth gambling on.
FINDING A POSITION
Speaking of the happiness of our health practitioners, the recent furore around giving NHS workers health checks and yoga classes seems to have ignited an impassioned discussion on how and where NHS money is spent.
Designed to ‘cut the £2.4bn annual cost of sickness absence among the 1.3 million NHS staff in England who care for patients’, staff are to be offered ‘health checks, yoga and Zumba classes while at work as part of a major drive to improve the wellbeing of the country’s biggest workforce.’
Whatever your viewpoint, I don’t think anyone can disagree that the health of those caring for us should be as high a priority as those they care for. But if the system is at breaking point, something we are told on a regular basis, then one part of solving this has to be ensuring those working in it do not break first.
Furthermore, if another article we shared recently is anything to go by, then if yoga can help those living in an area of ongoing conflict to handle it, then is it completely inappropriate for those working in a service caring for one million people every 36 hours?
As we discuss where we are going, and how to be as agile as the technology we invent, then we think by discussing today’s realities we can arrive there in much better shape.
Make sure to follow CSL on twitter as we continue to find and share some of the most exciting developments in health, at the intersection of creativity and technology.