“Every six minutes, an older adult ends up at an emergency ward due to a falling incident.” This shocking statistic was recently published by an organisation that collects data for the Dutch ministry of Health. In the Netherlands, at least 3000 older adults die as a result of falling incidents every year. To put this into perspective: that is six times as much as the total amount of deaths from traffic accidents!
Solutions to this problem exist, but in practice often turn out to be difficult to finance. Fortunately, answers to this financial dilemma are beginning to emerge – answers that are completely in line with our way of thinking about health care. And, in addition, we have our own answer: our highly reliable fall detection- ánd prevention applications!
Falling incidents do not just cause a lot of suffering: they also costs the Dutch public about 810 million euro a year. Taking into account the rapid ageing of the population, VeiligheidNL has calculated that these costs will reach a staggering 1,3 billion by the year 2030 if the government does not change its policy. What these policy changes could consist of? For instance: access to courses developed to improve the balance of older adults. These courses are highly effective in reducing the risk at falling incidents – by no less than 61%.
The problem, however, is a financial one. The money that would be saved in terms of health care costs would not return to the government, but rather end up at private insurance companies. Motivated by this financial impasse, VeiligheidNL has recently come up with a plan – the Health Impact Bond. This is how it works: a private party, like a bank or a fund, invests in a social problem. This investment saves the government a certain amount of money, from which they take the initial private investment and an additional percentage of this number as profit, which is then returned to the private investor. Everybody wins! We think this is a great idea, and a very concrete manifestation of what can happen when we change the way we think about health care – and start taking responsibility collectively.
In addition, we are very glad to be able to offer our own contribution to the serious problem of falling incidents among older adults, in the form of the sophisticated fall detection- ánd prevention applications embedded in our Gociety Solutions. Using technology, we can address not just the alarming number of falling incidents, but also an aspect of the problem that is not even reflected by these numbers: the amount of older adults that stay indoors because they do not feel confident and safe enough to go outside – leaving them isolated and often lonely.
Our technology keeps older adults in permanent contact with their caregivers and loved ones, forming an invisible safety net around them. This allows them to move around freely, undisturbed by fear of falling or getting lost. The sophisticated algorithms in our technology are not just able to detect a fall; they also offer an indication of the level of risk at falling a user is exposed to – notifying both user and caregiver as soon as a declining trend or abnormality is detected. As isolation and loneliness are among the biggest problems that older adults suffer from – having serious mental effects, which often result in physical effects as well – this solution functions as a major contribution to the problems pointed out by these statistics. And the best thing is: this is all possible for a fraction of the current health care costs!