Digital Health: The Golden Globes, the UN, and Your Best Pitch

When Hollywood notices a trend, it’s a reasonable bet that it has become mainstream.

So, as shown by this year’s Golden Globes extravaganza, digital health has officially joined diversity, climate change, and social equity as one of the premier celebrity issues of our time.

Indeed, healthy aging — a positive outcome of digital health, especially during the pandemic — took center stage all night, as nearly 20 million viewers watched 80-year-old Jane Fonda receive her Cecil B. DeMille award, recognize 98-year-old Norman Lear for his longevity, and celebrate I Care A Lot, a comedy about two tough ladies and the Russian mafia making money off of elder caregiving, which also seems to have entered the pop culture psyche.

But then, there was also that sidebar celebration of ingenuity, innovation, and hope in the outpouring of how otherwise decrepit health systems are finally improving through an explosion in the use of telemedicine.

The Globes’ production decision to underscore the transformation of telehealth and telemedicine, forced by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, was as clever as it was insightful about the elevation of innovative technology to help us manage daily living.

Healthy aging will indeed require innovative solutions — but not just from Hollywood and its celebrities.

Digital transformation for a growing demographic

None other than the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency on IT, digital, and telecommunications, is stepping up action on digital health, as reflected in their annual World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). This year, the WSIS Forum 2021 will partner with the Global Coalition on Aging(GCOA), the world’s leading business voice on aging, to make sure digital transformation supports healthier, more active aging for the fastest growing demographic on the planet.

This demographic, of course, is those of us over 60, which will reach 2 billion by mid-century, and, within the decade — declared by the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) as the Decade of Healthy Ageing: 2021–30 — create a world of more old than young.

The over-60 demographic is most at-risk of COVID-19, as well as the demographic at the center of the Silver Economy.

As the Golden Globes’ producers understood, telemedicine is a central part of this market, here to stay and good for all of us, young and old.

Calling innovators of all ages

Just as the Golden Globes reached viewers of all ages and generations, GCOA’s collaboration with the WSIS Forum 2021 will engage innovators of all ages to recognize and support further development of digitally enabled solutions for older people — in fintech, in health, in entertainment, transportation, and across retail:

· Ageing Better Through ICTs Hackathon. This first-of-its-kind global hackathon will virtually bring together participants from around the world and of all ages to develop ideas to design digital solutions — or information and communication technologies (ICTs) — for the needs of older people. The hackathon will focus on four challenge areas: Alzheimer’s disease, frailty, transportation, and financial tools. A panel of expert judges from the UN, WHO, and industry will award prizes to a winning idea from each area.

Want to participate? Registration for the Ageing Better Hackathon runs through March 15.

· Healthy Ageing Innovation Prize. The WSIS Forum is currently accepting submissions for this “exceptional international recognition of WSIS stakeholders as leaders for their excellence in supporting innovation that brings sustainable solutions for the ever-increasing global population of older people.” The prize will recognize digital solutions that “support older people to stay healthy, connected and independent, physically, emotionally and financially,” which will also be showcased at the end of the Forum.
Think you have a winning idea or project? Read more about the guidelines and complete the submission form here.

· Special Track on ICTs and Older Persons. The hackathon and Innovation Prize are just the beginning. The WSIS Forum 2021 will feature an entire track of programming dedicated to digital solutions for older adults. Events will include panel discussions on topics like health system resilience and Covid-19, AI and the next decade of ICT innovation, digital health and the Decade of Health Ageing, high-tech/high-touch caregiving, ageism and the silver market opportunity, and more.

Want to attend an event or view a recording? You can see the agenda and pre-register here.

Whether you’re 22 or 82, a lesson from COVID-19 is that the new digital economy is here, from shopping online to tele-visiting your physician to producing the Golden Globes across multiple geographies and venues.

Join us virtually for this year’s WSIS Forum 2021, where the megatrends of aging and digital will come together to explode innovation, improve lives, and grow economies. Not bad for a pandemic.

Image credit: Todd Williamson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Source: My ITU

Latest Developments

We keep our members and partners in touch with the most recent updates and opinions in the worldwide dialogue on population longevity and related issues.

NEW REPORT – Policy Priorities for Super-Ageing Japan: Health Innovation and Economic Growth in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era

New York and Tokyo (February 24, 2021) – Today, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) announced a report sharing key takeaways from their roundtable on healthy aging, innovation, and the silver economy. The October 2020 virtual roundtable convened experts from across the health, business, aging, and elder homecare sectors in a policy discussion to call on governments to recognize health spending as a critical investment for countries like Japan, who are leading the global megatrend of aging and placing innovation at the center of this investment.

Global Coalition on Aging Partners with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2021

New York, NEW YORK (February 23, 2021) – The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2021 and the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) announce their collaboration on the first-ever WSIS Forum Healthy Ageing Innovation Prize to be awarded  at the WSIS Forum 2021.  The prize will be awarded to the most innovative technology that enables healthier and more active ageing and will be presented in parallel with the WSIS Forum 2021 Special Track on ICTs and Older Persons, which is designed, organized and supported by GCOA.

NEW REPORT – The Threat of AMR to Japan’s Super-Aging Society: Implications on Health Care, Public Policy, and Economic Well-Being

New York and Tokyo (February 21, 2021) – Today, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) announced a report sharing key policy-focused takeaways from their roundtable on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in super-aging Japan. On October 7, 2020, the roundtable convened experts from across the business, government, academic, aging, and non-profit sectors in a policy discussion that recognized the multifaceted risks of AMR in aging societies around the world, including super-aging Japan.

WSIS Forum 2021 and the Global Coalition on Aging Partner on Hackathon to Inspire Cutting-Edge ICT Innovation for Older Persons

New York, NEW YORK (February 18, 2021) – The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) today announce their partnership on the Ageing Better Through ICTs hackathon, a first-of-its-kind global hackathon focused on innovation for the Silver Economy. The hackathon, conducted virtually, will draw participants from around the world and of all ages to generate ideas for information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the lives of older persons.

​​​​Global Coalition on Aging and Pfizer Medical Grants Partner to Tackle Vaccine Hesitancy in Super-Aging Japan

New York, NEW YORK (February 17, 2021) – The Global Coalition on Aging and Pfizer Global Medical Grants announced today the launch of the first of its grant projects under the Japan-focused VALUE Initiative (Vaccines for All: Longevity Unleashed for Everyone), which has provided up to $1 million USD in grant awards. Grant recipients include Keio University, the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI), and the International Longevity Centre-UK.

Cross-Sector Panel of Experts Offers Trusted Guidance and Answers New Yorkers’ Questions on the Importance of Older Adult New Yorkers Getting Vaccinated Against Covid-19

New York, NEW YORK (January 21, 2021) – The New York City Department for the Aging, the Age-friendly NYC Commission, and the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), the world's leading business voice on aging, collaborated yesterday on a webinar to help build trust and acceptance of the Covid-19 vaccines for New York’s older adults.