Population Health Insights

T-3 countdown to World Health Day – Bonnie Norman

BONNIE NORMAN, DIRECTOR OF QUALITY AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS – Recent themes for World Health Day have been antimicrobial resistance, urbanization and health, and hospital safety. In your opinion, what makes “aging and health” such an important topic for World Health Day 2012?

In the world of modern communications, the problems of aging populations and chronic disease are well known. What is not yet defined is an approach to solutions that scale to the size of the problem. This requires coordination and cooperation across many disciplines and many countries. A shared vision is essential; World Health Day can help define that shared vision and accelerate movement towards a caring, compassionate and effective solution.

Why did you decide to work in this field? What does helping older adults mean to you personally?

We all have aging parents in our life; I’m no different. I see the struggles that my 91-year old mother faces on a daily basis. I hear her desire to maintain the life she has always known, and her fear of losing her independence. From a personal standpoint, I understand the obstacles faced by remote caregivers as they try to meet aging parents' needs while allowing their parents to maintain personal dignity and privacy. I understand how technology can overcome some of these obstacles but at the same time I recognize how intimidating technology alone can be. What motivates me is the challenge of bringing technology solutions that create a virtual but caring environment, an environment that enhances the quality of care for those who need it.

Since Care Innovations was formed, what's the one thing you're most proud of accomplishing in the area of "aging and health"?

I'm proud of how Care Innovations maintains a focus on the people who use our technology. As a leading edge technology company, it would be all too easy for us to be led by our technological vision; instead, we seek to understand the real world problems faced by people who may be aging, or challenged with chronic diseases and other health problems.

If you could make a single ask of the 193 countries that make up the membership of the World Health Organization, what would it be? What should they do to demonstrate their commitment to "aging and health"?

Rethink the whole traditional model of care. Start with a blank sheet of paper and let go of all existing preconceptions of how healthcare should be delivered and who has to benefit. I'd ask them each to put themselves in the seat of a healthcare recipient, and think about what it means to age, to have to leave your home, to have to manage a chronic disease, and to acknowledge that we all deserve dignity throughout the aging process. I'd ask them also to examine where money is best spent: in preventing disease or in managing it.