AARON DUERKSEN, GENERAL MANAGER, DISEASE MANAGEMENT – 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?
Quite simply, the world is getting older. By 2020, the senior population is expected to double. There isn't a bigger issue globally than the massive increase in the aging population and institutional responses to effectively deal with the associated problems that not only reduces the cost of care but also increases the quality of care provided.
Why did you decide to work in this field? What does helping older adults mean to you personally?
I've always felt a huge responsibility to my elders. As I reflect back the most meaningful lessons I've learned have come from people who were older and wiser than me. Whether it was my mom, my dad, my grandparents, my teachers … life's lessons are handed down by our elders. It's important that we keep hearing those voices and provide environments and tools that allow our elders to age safely.
Since Care Innovations was formed, what’s the one thing you’re most proud of accomplishing in the area of “aging and health”?
We've built a service solution around the technology that allows for a new paradigm in care we call virtual care coordination. By going beyond the "box" we enable our clients to choose a delivery model that helps transition the patient to their home post discharge and ensure the right strategies are in place to keep them there. Additionally, we've created more flexible technology that's tailored to the individual, whether you are a stay at home grandmother who has never used a computer or a technology savvy person who travels a lot. You do not have to conform to the technology, the technology conforms to you.
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”?
First, recognize that the current environment or status quo is unsustainable. There simply will not be enough doctors, nurses, care managers, or funds available to effectively treat the growing aging population. Second, make a commitment to change and leverage technology to improve clinical efficiency, quality of care, and patient empowerment. Lastly, align incentives for everyone in the health ecosystem so governments, payers, and providers can deliver a lower cost, higher quality of care in a coordinated fashion.