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Europe launches health plan for its ageing population

Improved adherence and greater use of telehealth named as key areas

Health issues related to Europe's ageing population are the subject of a new action plan launched by the European Commission (EC).

Announced at the first Conference of Partners of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, the plan addresses six key areas that need to be addressed in view of the increasing elderly population throughout the region.

These include improving prescription adherence, with the EC commenting that just 25 per cent of older people with chronic conditions, such as heart or lung conditions, take their medicines in the right way at the right time.

The level of chronic disease in the elderly also increases the need for improved integrated care, with the EC saying it wants greater use to be made of tele-monitoring schemes, to let people monitor and self-manage their condition more effectively, and decrease the need for travel.

Other areas highlighted by the EC for improvement include the scaling up of plans to prevent falls, which also include the potential for tele-monitoring, as well as a programme to prevent functional decline and frailty through the use of diet and exercise.

The final two parts of the plan address independent living, with the EC encouraging the use of information and communication technology (ICT) systems to enable social contact, and the need to create an age-friendly environment by campaigning at both regional and local levels to adapt public areas to better suit the needs of older people.

Each plan will be developed by a separate action group comprising several stakeholders within the European Innovation Partnership, which was set up by the EC to improve services for the ageing population throughout Europe.

Speaking at the Conference, vice president of the EC responsible for the digital agenda Neelie Kroes discussed the importance of this combined effort to tackle an area of increasing priority in healthcare.

“Because we all need the same thing. To improve people's lives. And we can't do this simply by throwing money at the problem, not in the current climate. Nor by simply cutting budgets. Nor by just taking what we already do, and adding in a couple of fancy gadgets," she said.

“Rather, we need to use smart innovations to re-engineer and reinvent our whole health and social care system. We'll do that better if we learn from each other. We'll do it better if we work together. We'll do it better if we build economies of scale and critical mass.”

8th November 2012

From: Healthcare

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