by Pei-Syuan Lai
According to the Department of Household Registration under the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), Taiwan has officially entered the stage of an “aged society” as people over 65 years old accounted for over 14% of Taiwan’s total population at the end of March 2018. The manpower needed and the huge cost of elderly healthcare are both existing challenges. Because of this, there is an urgent need to improve healthcare, increase human life expectancy, and enhance people’s health.
Nursing-care robots to keep the elderly company
To cope with the shortage of caregivers, there is the smart care that brings together long-term care and home healthcare. Smart care features consultations through online platforms where the elderly could access various information and have their body measurements taken at home. By uploading data to the cloud-based care system via the mobile applications, it is now easier for the elderly to get in touch with health professionals and provide personal health information needed.
Another project in smart care is the household care robot. In recent years, companies both in Taiwan and abroad have introduced robots with different functions. The elderly can interact with robots using voice, conducting online consultation and simple health tests through programmed dialogues and data transmissions. Some robots can even provide daily exercise coaching, nutrition counseling, and healthcare solutions.
Elderly smart care hospital with comprehensive care services
To address senior healthcare and follow-up issues, National Cheng Kung University Hospital (NCKUH) in Tainan is now building a chartered hospital for elderly care, which is expected to be complete by 2022. In addition, when an elderly goes to a clinic, it is difficult to diagnose and determine patients’ conditions judging from only a few symptoms. It shows a need for doctors with interdisciplinary professions. Therefore, NCKUH is making use of its past experience to build an Education Center for Elderly Medicine and Smart Healthcare Development. The purpose is to train professionals in elderly care as well as to work together with the top pharmaceutical companies in Taiwan, so the quality of medical treatment for the elderly can be improved.
NCKUHhas cooperated with Quanta Computer, trying to create a smart senior medical center using AI (Artificial Intelligence), AIOT (Artificial Intelligence of Things), and ICT (Information and Communication Technology). The short-term goal is to use technology to shorten the time that the elderly spend in hospital, so they could spend more time receiving care at home where they feel more comfortable. Another objective is to make the senior care hospital a long-term care center for the elderly in Tainan. By doing so, a stronger connection among local hospitals and medical institutions can be built, so the 400 beds and resources could be put into good use.
Everyone will grow old, and when a society is aging, people can only live with less burden when they address the senior healthcare issues systematically. It is expected that smart healthcare in the future can bring about a more comprehensive and scientific analysis for health professional to make decisions. As information becomes more accessible to the general public, the first-class medical services could be provided.