21st Century Health System Resilience: Lessons From the Pandemic on Innovation and Healthy Aging

A new report by the Global Coalition on Aging, 21st Century Health System Resilience: Lessons From the Pandemic on Innovation and Healthy Aging explores the imperative for global health care systems to realign in order to accelerate innovation to meet the challenges – and opportunities – posed by the scientific miracle of longevity and the aging of society. The report was made possible through support from GCOA members and a generous sponsorship from Biogen.

The United Nations’ and World Health Organization’s recently launched Decade of Healthy Ageing is a welcome sign that global policymakers understand the need to make health systems more responsive to the demands of aging societies.

According to the report, “Fully aligning health care systems to a world with 2.1 billion people over age 60 by mid-century will require innovation on a massive scale that can only be achieved by fundamentally re-examining the way countries regulate and reimburse the treatments we will need to care for our growing aging populations.”

Most national health systems were created to provide and pay for acute care – where people are treated for brief but severe periods of illness.  The “disease-cure” model worked when lifespans were short and diseases of aging were more rare.  But it is not designed for a world where billions of people live for decades with steadily worsening conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

The report outlines several potential areas of reform:

  • Adopting patient-centered metrics based on functional ability for measuring success in health care.
  • Emphasizing early detection and management of diseases to promote functional ability.
  • Accelerating innovation across drug development.
  • Expanding the discussion to include a broader range of stakeholders beyond traditional health ministries.
  • Adopting a more comprehensive approach to valuing new innovations to account for costs such as informal care often required to handle the diseases of aging.

“Reimagining healthcare systems to meet the needs of healthy aging and an overall healthier society has been proven in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael W. Hodin, CEO of GCOA. “Policymakers must recognize the value of these investments and the power that comes with enabling better prevention, diagnosis and treatment. In our aging world, to continually innovate must be a scientific, political and investment priority.”

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.

Ignoring the ‘Silver Economy’ May Be Getting Costly for Brands

In an ad for Airbnb that premiered earlier this year, a couple checks into a cozy Spanish villa. To the tune of Jay-Z's cover of "Me and My Girlfriend," the ad shows the pair settling into their rental and setting their collective dial to chill. They play ping-pong, sip some wine, and get ready for a night on the town. They're also in their 80s, celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary. In no way does the ad characterize the couple as elderly or portray them as needing special aid or services — they are just active people who happen to be old. It's a rare example of ads featuring a realistic depiction of aging.

Health Equity Promise and That Innovation Thing

President Biden has pledged his administration to defeat cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases that target America’s aging population. To achieve these lofty goals, bold words must be backed up by bold actions.

Roundtable Report Highlights Importance of Immunizing Canada’s Caregivers Against Influenza, Identifying Challenges and Opportunities to Protect This Critical Group

The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) today released a report summarizing key insights from an expert roundtable on vaccinating Canada’s caregivers against influenza. The roundtable, held virtually, brought together leading Canadian health policy experts, family caregivers, patient advocacy groups, aging experts, and other thought leaders to discuss challenges and strategies to reach this critically important yet hard-to-reach group.

Women, Work, Wellness, and That Aging Thing…

The OECD Forum’s virtual event Women at The Frontline of the Recovery will presciently focus attention among policymakers and the public stakeholders alike on the unique relationship between the age demographic mega-trend and the essential policies needed for OECD economies to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Headlines of the Future Podcast: Decoding Healthy Aging

How can advancements in science and medicine make it possible for individuals to enjoy greater health and activity in their later years? For health leaders and organizations such as the Global Coalition on Aging, ensuring individuals can truly shine in their "Golden Years" is a matter of revisiting education and communication strategies, advancing digital health technologies and expanding access to healthcare innovation.

Longer Lifespans Require Secure Financial Futures

As many as half of 5-year-olds in the United States can now expect to live to 100, a population that is projected to swell in the decades ahead. Longer lifespans don’t guarantee a financially secure later life, however. If anything, in the absence of significant planning, extreme longevity may make financial security harder to attain.