DANIEL KRAFT: Welcome to Healthy Conversations, an open discussion with health care experts about what we're learning on the front lines of clinical transformation. I'm Dr. Daniel Kraft. New technologies are making it possible for more seniors to continue living independent lives by receiving care at home.
But as they say, in many ways, the future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed. Let's begin by defining who we're talking about. Can you help summarize kind of what's here and what's coming, because I don't think many of the folks listening, health care practitioners included, really realize what's ahead of us in the next couple of decades?
KEN DYCHTWALD: We had birth rates declining for about 150 years in America. But Then World War II ended. And the Depression and the war was such a dark period, there was so much exuberance that followed it. In 92% of all women who could have kids did. And they average just under four kids each.
And so that baby boom is now becoming and age wave. And so on top of this longevity revolution, most of the growth in American demography is taking place in maturity. And so you're going to see everything from the way we design our automobiles to the size of the typeface and our printing materials to the skills needed to be a health care practitioner to the role models we're going to see in movies and TV shows are going to increasingly become older men and women. And that's never happened before. Let's smarten ourselves up about how to deal with aging bodies.
MADDY DYCHTWALD: People are going to have to be able to reconcile the fact that they have to plan for their present and for their future self at the same time. And it's not an easy task. But I think that if you instill the message early enough that young people will catch on and start taking action.
DANIEL KRAFT: Can you maybe explain the difference about just life span versus health span?
KEN DYCHTWALD: There's life span and then there's health span. And as a nation, we don't do so well. There's many countries around the world that have a much higher health span and life expectancy lifespan than we do. And so who wants to spend the last 7, 8, 10, 15 years of their life in pain or not able to be independent or with loss of cognitive functions?
MADDY DYCHTWALD: We have average life expectancy about 79. But we have health span 10 years less. So the last 10 years of our lives, many Americans-- most Americans-- are living with some kind of chronic degenerative disease, and maybe even some kind of physical ailment that's holding them back from just living a vital active life. So I think that there's going to have to be a kind of reinvention with huge financial considerations there.
DANIEL KRAFT: Technologies like telemedicine are more important than ever. But they're just the start. Let's take a look at some of the new devices making a home a safer place for seniors.
ADAM PELLEGRINI: The health hubs are a fantastic place for seniors that want to get educated on new technologies, that want to get educated on what are the next things to help them based upon their personal needs. We've been really looking at how do we just seamlessly interact with health care providers and health care services from CVS. And with the product that we just launched, CVS Health Symphony, as you could see, it's a really well-designed next generation-looking orchestrator of health and safety in the home. Unlike other types of technologies that do this today, Symphony can recognize voice. If I say emergency, emergency, emergency, the Symphony unit will automatically turn on and say, would you like me to call your caregivers?
Would you like me to call 911? And can recognize the voice commands and prompts. I can even push buttons that call out proactively a caregiver through the caregiver app, and have a two-way voice communication anywhere in the world through the Smart Hub with Symphony. On top of that, the app acts like a 360 degree view of what's going on in the home. As we build out these next generation solutions, it'll be incredibly important that a provider is the key stakeholder in what we build and what we design.
DANIEL KRAFT: The future of health care may look very different. And we asked the author of The Future Of Aging to fill us in on some of the exciting technologies already being deployed today and what's coming next. What are some of the things you think health care providers and caregivers often get wrong when they think about the aging process in general?
ZAYNA KHAYAT: If the average person is staying alive like, I don't know, 8,000 days after they turn 65, that's 21 years. You've got to look at the economics. You got to look at consumer models, housing. All those come together and they affect the choices you're going to make about health care.
DANIEL KRAFT: How have you seen COVID impact elder care and the role of the family, family caregiver, and clinician?
ZAYNA KHAYAT: I will say one thing is going to emerge that hasn't yet in North America, in the world, is the caregiver economy. And what I mean caregiver, I mean you and me taking care of our parents, caregiver. Today, like, the caregiving economy is very informal. It's like, whoever you got, you cobble it together. An entire market is to be created of this formal economy that has yet to be built.
Secondly, is anybody caring for an older person you actually have two clients or two customers, the older adult and their family caregiver. You literally have to do both. Just like you and pediatrics, Daniel, you have the parent and the child. That's what it is. And we haven't really designed anything for the family caregiver, even in health care models.
DANIEL KRAFT: The idea that we've gone from hospital to homespital, especially catalyzed by COVID. Can you maybe help unpack what that really means?
ZAYNA KHAYAT: I mean, at the end of the day, the homespital will replace most of acute care. And what will be left in most hospitals the analysts predict is ER, ICU, and OR. I often tell people like, imagine if every time you wanted to know what you weigh, you had to make an appointment with a specialist you know, and go to an acute care facility, or to check if you're pregnant. This stuff will all be democratized to the home setting.
DANIEL KRAFT: Born of necessity, accelerated by adversity, new technologies for at home health care are changing the game for seniors, making it easier for them to remain safely in their homes, and making it easier for caregivers to monitor their health. The device you're using to watch this episode might soon become the interface between you and your aging patients.