Mobile Healthcare Imperative as Taiwan Becomes Aging Society in 2018

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National Health Insurance (NHI) in Taiwan has acclaimed international recognition. The highly satisfactory national health care wins other countries’ praises and is regarded as a research model for other countries’ reference. Taiwan is becoming an aging society and needs to confront the issues of long-term care for the elderly, the urban-rural discrepancy in medical resources, deficiency of medical manpower, and the nurse-patient ratio. It is imperative to make healthcare more mobile to address these issues.


National Health Insurance in Taiwan is highly praised worldwide

According to the statistics on the NHI website, the NHI coverage reached 99.6% of the Taiwanese population, and the satisfaction rate is on average, above 80% in recent years. Taiwan’s NHI is respectable and viewed by other countries as a typical learning resource for their own healthcare provisions. Many foreign guests from different countries visit Taiwan every year. From January 2015 to June 2016, there are 981 foreign guests from 71 countries visiting Taiwan and joining the healthcare training courses. Taiwan’s medical service is ranked in the top ten in the world by CNN, Discovery Company, and Global Post. The Richest even ranks Taiwan’s medical service as the top in the world. All of these owes a great deal to excellent medical techniques and NHI system. Everyone can see a doctor with affordable medical expenses.


NHI prevents the medical care difficulties for underprivileged groups

NHI is not only an insurance but also a welfare for Taiwanese. It’s one of the government’s policies to keep everyone healthy and provide healthcare for the entire population. It’s core value is to take care of underprivileged groups by providing more convenient and accessible healthcare. The government spends US$860 million on premium allowances every year to share the medical expenses across the population and separate the medical expenses from the insurance. People only have to pay a small portion of the costs, instead of the majority of the medical expenses, when seeing the doctor. As medical expenses decreased, people tended to seek more medical advice, thus increasing the cost for NHI. The National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K. is another well-known model with similar service structure.


Taiwan’s Aging Society Rate Is The highest in the World

According to statistics, Taiwan will become an aging society in 2018 and the hyper-aged society in 2025. It took France 118 years to become an aging society, and both the U.K. and the U.S. became an aging society in about 50 years. In contrast, Taiwan will become an aging society in just 24 years, which is the fastest in the world. It is now feared that the NHI provision will not be sufficient to tackle the problem of Taiwan’s aging population. The mobile healthcare is expected to be the solution to the aging problem and the insufficient nurse-patient ratio.


Market scope of mobile healthcare in Asia ranks third in the world

According to a survey by Deloitte, the market scope of global mobile healthcare reached US$10.5 billion in 2014. In 2015, China’s mobile healthcare market reached US$4.27 billion. American research institute BCC Research estimates that the market scope of the global mobile healthcare APP will reach US$21.5 billion in 2018. The top three regions are Europe, the U.S., and Asia with US$6.4 billion. It is clear that the business opportunities of mobile healthcare in Asia is huge.


Mobile healthcare includes wearable devices and Apps

We can now synchronize hospital data via mobile health devices. The wearable cardiovascular devices continuously monitor heart beat data from human bodies, followed by Big Data analysis for early discovery. The warning message will be shown on the phone or apps if anything abnormal happens. Currently, there are wearable devices for detection of cardiovascular, asthma, liver, blood pressure, blood sugar, calorie, and weight monitoring, and apps for exercise and dietary management.


Mobile health benefits rural areas

China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAIST) conducted a wireless cardio health care project. It connected cardiac monitors to smart phones. In China’s remote rural areas, 11,000 patients with cardiovascular disease wore them and delivered the collected data to the doctors in the district hospital. After data analysis, 1,100 patients were confirmed for further treatment.


Medical care institutions in Taiwan implement the mobile healthcare application platform

The mobile medical application in Taiwan isn’t ubiquitous yet. A medical device and health care department at the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) develops various kinds of mobile and wearable medical devices. To put the mobility of real-time medical treatment into practice, medical care institutions in Taiwan have started to implement the mobile medical application platform and integrate it with the HIS system. There are currently 500 health care workers and nearly 10,000 messages each day on the instant messaging collaboration platform “team+”. The platform saves half of the SMS fees. Hospitalized patients can use the tablet attached to their bed to communicate with their attending physicians. The doctor obtains the track of the disease when making the regular trips, even if the patient’s family were not there. The mobile healthcare applications are surely beneficial to both long-term care and telemedicine.

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