Biomedical Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
of life expectancy. The elderly are the main target-users of this action but they are
also not so expert in technology: this situation will be probably solved with the
next “technological” generations, but up to now this gap is a criticism.
In this way we can say that the future of healthcare is the drive for more per-
sonalized care, that will increase the quality of the service and will allow to con-
trol costs. For many years, healthcare trends have looked unsustainable—ageing
populations result in more people needing care, while a declining workforce
means fewer people to pay for, and actually deliver, that care. At the same time,
an inexorable rise in the costs of care linked to long term conditions reflects the
impact of modern lifestyles, as well as positive advances in medicine and public
health. Up to now it has been possible to absorb these costs incrementally, but with
the consequence that either a significant proportion of the population loses access
to care for all but emergency procedures, or the debate focuses on the rationale for
controlling access to treatments.
Spending on healthcare is becoming unsustainable. Even with a raft of changes,
a recent European Union study raised concerns about the sustainability of public
finances. It predicted health and long term costs in the EU would rise on aver-
age by about 2.6 percentage points of GDP by 2060, a 33 % increase. This far
from modest prediction already takes into account measures such as prolonging
working life; increasing participation of youth, women and older workers; reform-
ing tax and benefit systems; and making health and long term care systems more
Thus, investing in healthcare requires a long term vision, and technology is a
key point. The complexity of healthcare has resulted in a relatively late adoption
of information technology, yet it is now clear from experience that health sys-
tems which are able to use information to drive quality and provide more preven-
tive care can achieve remarkable results. Effective investment in health requires a
holistic, long term view of the issues.
If the future of health lies in the use of information to drive for more personal-
ized care in a way that opens up access and drives up quality while controlling
costs, then the prospects in healthcare are:
• New governance and new service models;
• Telehealth exploitation, that means to empower people to manage their own
health and wellness;
• Health information vision, i.e. transforming healthcare delivery from volume of
care to quality of care.
In this scenario, it is clear how investing in new technologies is strategic. It
is strategic but also economically challenging, both for the investments and also
for their return. In this situation IPR issues can become essential: this is proba-
bly the main reason for the incredible increase in patent applications occurred in
last years. For example, in the last decade more than 500 patent applications were
claimed in the field of wearable sensors [ 1 ]. Thus in this topic and speciically in
the next chapter the methods to protect and exploit innovation will be presented
and discussed in detail.
Search WWH ::

Custom Search