China, like the rest of the world, is dealing with a massive aging population. Add to this a rising middle class migrating to the cities and a changing family structure and the stresses to China's healthcare and social services systems are huge. China's government, recognizing these challenges, has provided leadership in its 12th 5 year plan outlining policies and funding providing for technology enabled aging services.
I recently attended the China International Senior Services Expo in Beijing. This conference, sponsored by the Chinese Association of Social Welfare (CASW) under the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MOCA), was a combination of policy articulation and technology and service vendors offering health, wellness, spiritual, and housing solutions. In fact, Intel is working with the Chinese government on an Aged Friendly City Initiative and you can read more about this innovative venture in a new white paper.
As I walked the floors of this expo, I was struck by the innovative and comprehensive set of technologies and solutions on display. There were:
• Smart phone applications for medication reminding, calendaring and caregiver communication
• Community-based remote patient monitoring solutions (vitals, weight, video conference); some standalone but many that provided call centers for consultation
• Many different shapes and sizes of Win8* touch and Android based mobility solutions
• Wearables (e.g. watches) that track wandering or aid with fall prevention and emergency response
• Real estate companies who were providing assisted living facilities as well as group vacations and other services for elders.
What surprised me the most was not the Chinese uniqueness of these solutions, but the commonality of need. I could have been in any country, speaking any language. These needs are the same experienced by countries all over the world who have aging populations.
The unique aspect in China is the magnitude of deployment occurring. Many of these vendors claimed deployments in the "thousands"...still a tiny fragment of the Chinese market but significant nonetheless. It made me think that China could be the place that gets this right. It has all the elements: the need, the urgency, the policy, the funding, and the innovation.
What do you think?