COSO: How to make Care for Older Adults successful?

Imagine a situation where there is a huge party where guests continue to arrive, but the hosts are limited and increasingly overburdened. This situation mirrors what is happening in our world with the shortage of caregivers – there are a growing number of older adults who need care, but there are not enough caregivers available. What leads to this shortage of caregivers, especially at a time when they are needed the most? But most importantly, how do we ensure that the solutions we create today do not become the problems of tomorrow?

Over the last half-century, various countries have witnessed significant socioeconomic progress, which has coincided with substantial decreases in birth rates and notable increases in average lifespans (WHO, 2017), which has resulted in an accelerated aging of the global population. As of 2021, the global count of individuals aged 60 and above has surpassed 1 billion, constituting approximately 13.5% of the world’s population (WHO, 2017). By the year 2030, it is projected that one in every six people will be aged 60 or older (WHO, 2017). As people age, they undergo various physiological changes, which elevate the likelihood of older individuals developing chronic illnesses and becoming dependent on care (Li & Ma, 2024). Consequently, at least 142 million older people globally struggle to fulfil their basic necessities (WHO, 2017). Hence, maintaining and optimizing functional capabilities is crucial for healthy aging (Li & Ma, 2024; WHO, 2020). Considering this, even the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched an initiative called The United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030), that is a global collaborative effort aiming to enhance the lives of older individuals, their families, and the communities (WHO, 2020).

In addressing the caregiver shortage, the rise of technology frequently emerges as a potential solution, offering innovative ways to bridge the gap between the increasing demand for care and the limited supply of caregivers (Demiris, 2021). The technological revolution in healthcare is not just about fancy gadgets; it is fundamentally transforming how care is delivered. From telemedicine platforms allowing doctors to consult with patients remotely to monitoring systems that keep track of vital signs without the need for constant human supervision, technology is making waves (Demiris, 2021; Lindeman et al., 2020). While technology indeed presents a promising avenue for addressing the caregiver shortage, it is important to recognize that it may only solve one aspect of the problem. The real challenge lies in ensuring that the technology is effectively utilized and adopted by caregivers themselves (Lindeman et al., 2020). After all, it is the caregivers who will be at the forefront of implementing these technological solutions in their daily work. This raises a critical question: Are there enough caregivers available to not only provide care but also effectively operate and leverage these advanced tools? In many cases, the answer circles back to the initial problem – the scarcity of caregivers.

This raises few questions that our work will consider:

  • What are the leading organizations in the field of care for older adults?
  • Which business models are employed by leading organizations in health care system?
  • How and by whom are digital health technologies utilized to enhance care services and operational efficiency?

Expected results:

Through this work, we intend to contribute to the development of effective and sustainable caregiving models that leverage technological advancements and innovative business strategies to meet the increasing demands of an aging population, ensuring a higher quality of care and improved operational efficiencies. Furthermore, by exploring the strategies of the most successful organizations in caregiving, this study aims to uncover actionable insights for the caregiving sector.

Main goal:

  • Business Model Framework and/or guidelines to build up successful care services
  • Recommendations for different stakeholders (organizations, family, caregivers, etc.) involved in battling aging population and caregiver shortage

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Huynh, P., Brändle, M., Fleisch, E., Kowatsch, T., Jovanova, M. (2024) Digital Health Technologies for Metabolic Disorders in Older Adults: A Scoping Review, 12th Annual International Society for Research on Internet Interventions (ISRII) Meeting, Limerick, Ireland, 2-6 June 2024, Abstract & Poster (forthcoming).

Huynh, P., Kruschitz, E., Kowatsch, T. (2024) What needs to change to make digital health successful? A perspective of the Austrian healthcare provider MavieNext, In Proc of the 17th International Joint Conference on Biomedical Engineering Systems and Technologies – Scale-IT-up; ISBN 978-989-758-688-0; ISSN 2184-4305, SciTePress, 859-864, 10.5220/0012401000003657.

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In Brief

The project aims to develop effective and sustainable care models by analyzing organizations, business strategies, and digital health technologies to address the needs of an aging population.

Research Team

Panitda Huynh, Mia Jovanova, PhD, Prof. Dr. Elgar Fleisch, Prof. Dr. Tobias Kowatsch


September 2023 – August 2027

Panitda Huynh
Panitda HuynhPhD Candidate, Centre for Digital Health Interventions; University of St. Gallen