Aging Well - The workshop

Frank Kumli
Frank Kumli

BaselArea.swiss

Aging Well - The workshop

Our multi-stakeholder innovation workshop around the Individual Mobility needs of the Aging adults brought together 25+ innovators, ranging from start-ups, hospital, academia, insurance, pharma, technology and, of course, representatives of the aging adults. The goal of the session was to exchange and co-create innovative solutions addressing mobility needs and derive learnings to drive our “Aging well” initiative forward.

As the group reflected on the individual mobility needs of the aging adults, 5 main clusters emerged around the following areas: Mobility and social interaction, Fitness, Prevention, Cognitive skills and Care night+day.

20+ solutions were brainstormed in teams and three were then selected for a deep-dive session. The solutions that were co-designed:

I) Agitude!  A digital Platform to bring together knowledge and to support the needs of the aging adults and the communities around them. This platform for “best agers” would provide access to:

  • the right education (information, awareness, education)
  • the right products (nutrition, medications, diagnostic tools)
  • information about the right services to help with better aging

II) Health Bus! A mobile „Exer-Gaming“ (i.e. a combination of Exercising and Gaming) device + service platform bringing cognitive and physical exercise together. This service is provided in a bus that brings rehabilitation technology to the patients to help the aging adults understand the need for motor-cognitive training on a regular basis. The bus provides:

  • training and assessment, as part of a pilot to understand what is important and later provide the tools to do it when the bus is not around
  • access to a network of remote locations,  who usually do no have access to technology
  • social aspects, as a “meet up place” to develop a community for people to train together

III) Kiosk! A neighborhood kiosk to create communities, enable social interaction and the exchange of services. This initiative combines a physical and digital platform as a Kiosk with a Concierge receiving your request and curating the potential service providers in the neighborhood. The aim is to take the  “Lulu dans ma Rue” concept launched in Paris, France and adapt it to our local needs. This would be a kiosk: 

  • for young and old, for buyer and seller - offering the chance to everyone to take an active role in their neighbourhood
  • giving easily access to services that simplify daily life (e.g. plumber, DIY, small repair, IT support, carrying heavy boxes, dog- & cat-sitting)
  • with a Digital account to trade services

Given our “deep dive design” was a fast-paced session, the three above solutions certainly have potential to be further developed. Most importantly the workshop allowed us to identify 9 themes as a starting point of a framework on what is important for innovation in the field of Individual Mobility for the Aging adult, that we will develop further throughout the project.

The Framework

Reduced Mobility as a combination of factors

Muscle loss (Sarcopenia) and Cognitive decline are the two main factors impacting the mobility of the aging adult. Both aspects are interlinked and need to be considered as such in rehabilitation. Cognitive motor training can help achieve that. In combination, strength training is often overlooked despite vast evidence in favor of regular strength training at higher age.

Mobility and social interaction

Lower mobility is associated with lower levels of social engagement. Mobility is a fundamental prerequisite for participation in social relations and activities. A reciprocal relation exists between both for rehabilitation, including motivation / willingness to participate in training and prevention. Urban design can help. Rethinking the “last mile” and accessibility for transportation can help as well, as many elderly are relying on public transportation, family and neighbours for moving around, and taxis might not accept short-distance trips.

Diagnosis and assessments

The diagnosis of persons at risk of falls is not part of the routine assessment of aging adults. Pre-frailty diagnosis is also an underserved field (people in this stage exhibit highest impact of training on prevention of reduced mobility). A lot can be learned from other fields such as stroke where these diagnostics are routine. Diagnosis currently targets a specific population based on age and medical factors, while other factors such as a decreasing life-space (e.g. the person is reducing the distance when going out, not running errands anymore, leading to further decline of mobility) should be integrated into the risk profile.  Diagnosis tools are usually available in fall clinics but not at the GPs practices while the GPs are very often the first point of contact of aging adults and their families.

Awareness and education

There is too little awareness of the importance to enable the mobility of aging adults and what solutions are available. Platforms, targeted education programs, for example at the pharmacy or at the GP could help. Loss of mobility is still taboo and not much talked about unless a family member or self are confronted to the issue themselves. Awareness for fall risks is starting to rise, but awareness for evidence-based prevention and training programs is not - both among public and clinicians.

Business Models and Reimbursement

Payment for products and services is of critical importance for the aging adult. Aging is also a topic of critical importance for insurance (Life and Health and beyond). Innovative business models could help reimburse for services and products. There is a need to demonstrate the effectiveness of the solutions. In Switzerland (and Europe?), people are not willing to pay out of their own pocket for health prevention as they consider health-related matters should be covered by their health insurance and they pay already a substantial amount for their health insurance premiums. Value chain should be analyzed in greater detail to understand exact relationships and RoI of prevention programs in order to facilitate better business models for prevention. 

Senior Labs and innovation

Solutions and technologies for the aging adult are too often developed without the understanding of their needs and aspirations. The solutions are therefore often not used and result in commercial failures. Routinely engaging the Aging adults in the innovation and /or testing process will help develop solutions that fit their needs. “Senior labs” are a great approach to enable “Aging Adults”-centered design.

Collaborative pilots and scalability

Initiatives in the field of aging are often attempted to be deployed at a too large scale, before scalability and effectiveness have been demonstrated. The ability to pilot initiatives, in collaboration with payors or other stakeholders can help prove the value of the intervention and its future scalability before large funds are committed. The most important stakeholders, such as Insurance companies, aging homes, researchers and innovators should focus on launching concentrated pilot programs preventing loss of mobility that can provide proof of economic value and thus be scaled.

Cross-silo inspiration and learning

There is a lot to learn and exchange at the interface between start-ups, academia, healthcare providers and industry.  Common initiatives and platforms can help bring this knowledge together. Accessibility issues are not only faced by aging people but also by disabled persons or parents with young children. Cross-generational initiatives could help solve common issues.

Changing narrative and perspective on aging

Last but not least, there is a much-needed reboot about the narrative of aging through a much-needed holistic understanding of well-being: supporting older adults in living well across all aspects of life, in their own terms. This was actually well illustrated by this amazing video with which we opened the workshop, a care-giver centric innovation by Gillette and SE Health. 

Changing the perspective would help as well. Aging is still seen as a “fatality” and “irreversible” while actions can be taken to age well and slow down both motor and cognitive skills deterioration. Phases in aging should be reframed in terms of abilities and possibilities, rather than impairment and decline. 

Next steps

1. Solutions

You want to change the narrative on aging? You are an innovator creating services or products for aging adults or their family? One of our three “Individual Mobility” solutions hit home and you are willing to support us in taking it further? Contact us

2. White paper

We will start working on the White Paper, leveraging learnings from our workshop and refining further our “Aging Well Innovation Framework”. In our role of promoting innovation, we will develop the first white paper of our series by focussing on the following innovation enablers identified in our framework:

  • Senior Labs and innovation
  • Collaborative pilots and scalability
  • Cross-silo inspiration and learning

We will explore the other elements of the framework in the context of our other upcoming workshops.

3 . Support project

If you are interested in getting involved further and  supporting our project going forward, contact us

The “Aging well” project is driven by DayOne - the healthcare innovation initiative by BaselArea.swiss - to catalyze innovation for aging adults. 

Review and download the presentation slides for the workshop here. 

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