Asia is expected to experience a huge demographic shift over the next couple of decades, as the Asian Development Bank predicts that the continent's elderly population will reach 922.7 million by the middle of this century, which will make Asia the oldest region in the world. Caused by declining birth rates and increasing life expectancies, this shift will have a profound impact on the region's healthcare sector as countries prepare to provide more comprehensive support for a growing elderly population.
One of the technologies that has great potential to revolutionize patient and elderly care is machine-to-machine (M2M) communication technology. M2M allows devices and objects to exchange data automatically without human intervention. It's an important enabling technology that underlies the growing Internet of Things (IoT) and it has come of age in recent years as enterprises, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), and developers have realized M2M's potential. A study by GSMA Intelligence predicts that M2M connections around the world will hit a quarter of a billion this year as M2M deployments roll out across a wide range of vertical sectors including industrial automation, automotive and healthcare. M2M technology is strategically compelling in today's fast paced, competitive marketplace for its ability to connect enterprises with their remote assets, helping to improve efficiency while reducing operational costs. Global technology leaders like Gemalto are investing heavily in M2M, helping to improve reliability, security and service quality while simplifying application development and speeding time to market for new implementations as well as providing a better end-user experience.
In the healthcare sector in particular, M2M has enormous potential to improve patient care via applications such as remote patient monitoring. These applications allow medical devices to automatically send secure patient health data to physicians and caregivers helping to improve medical outcomes and patients' quality of life as well as reduce the frequency of office visits.
A great example of this is what's already happening in the USA. Vignet Corporation, an exciting company that is at the forefront of providing solutions for individual health, public health and population health, has developed an M2M-enabled smart health and wellness "hub" which enables many different use cases for improved wellness, chronic disease management and helping elderly people maintain their independence.
The award-winning Vignet solution is especially useful in assisting with chronic disease management, which has become an overwhelming burden for healthcare systems around the world - Singapore included - due to the increasing population of elderly citizens as life expectancy expands. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) helps lift the load off stretched healthcare resources while improving care. RPM can reduce the number of clinic visits and hospitalizations as well as the duration of hospital stays, which ultimately reduces the burden on healthcare providers and systems.
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