Commentary: How connected health can support the aging process

Personal Connected Health Alliance senior advisor Michael Birt examines how good scientific research proves that connecting people to each other can increase health and longevity. 
By Michael Birt
06:55 AM

“Age is just a number,” or “60 is the new 40.” Chances are you’ve heard these expressions, or taken them to heart when it seemed the number – and your sense of health and how your life is going – didn’t match. If you have, you were on to something very important.

One of the most powerful insights to come out of recent scientific research on aging is that we become increasingly different from each other with age. This means that our standard metric – chronological age – is a very ineffective tool for measuring the aging process and its immense variability in each of us. Not only is age just a number, it’s probably a wrong number.

This research flies in the face of our dominant cultural view about aging as a monolithic and negative experience for all older adults. Our path starts with a better understanding of how each of us experiences and “connects” with our health – socially, physically, emotionally and technologically. This is where the Internet of Things can deliver a powerful technological response to provide insights and data about how each of us is doing in real time. Whether it is passive environmental sensing data or active physiological metrics from wearable biosensors, our ability to generate evidence will help provide a more accurate and meaningful picture of our health and our aging process.

We now have good scientific research to show that helping each of us connect to people who care is a big step toward a longer, healthier life. This includes care providers, policymakers and technology innovators, as well patients, caregivers and anyone who wants to promote their own healthy longevity.

To meet this challenge, Personal Connected Health Alliance has launched the Academy for Healthy Longevity as a collaborative platform to leverage the social and technological power of connectedness to promote the highly personal experience of living a longer, healthier life. Our goal is to promote healthy longevity by the development of more precise and powerful technological and educational tools to measure and then support the unique experience of the universal process of human aging.

The next time you raise your glass in a toast, consider this: “Here’s to your longer, healthier life.” 

Michael Birt is Senior Advisor, Academy for Healthy Longevity, Personal Connected Health Alliance.

HIMSS17 runs from Feb. 19-23, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center.

This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.

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