The health-care system as we know it today “is ripe for disruption,” says Dr. Josephine McMurray during her keynote address on the first morning of the 4th annual Innovation Summit hosted by Schlegel Villages and the Research Institute for Aging. She wastes little time discussing the demographic shift societies are facing, for the 200 people in the conference room at Kitchener’s Holiday Inn are well aware that people are living longer, having fewer children and baby boomers are entering their later years placing new strains on an already burdened system.
But where there are challenges, there are opportunities. Despite the prevalence of ageist attitudes, Josephine tells the audience there is a growing “tribe” of older adults who are embracing technology and taking ownership of their personal health and well-being, representing an enormous business opportunity in a global market.
“The issues if aging,” she says, “represent some of the most profound and guaranteed shifts in our economy,” yet governments and policy makers are ill-equipped and unprepared to meet this demand.
She points out that the health-care system is expanding and growing, yet productivity is waning, leaving a massive gap for improvements and efficiencies to fill. “We’re not investing enough in new technologies to be able to help us to be more productive,” Josephine tells the audience. “This isn’t just about a new app or a piece of hardware; when I talk about technologies I mean new processes, new services, anything that helps to improve the quality, reduce the cost or improve the outcomes of the care we are providing.”
And this is what the annual Innovation Summit is all about. Team members, leaders and residents from across Schlegel Villages gather with industry professionals, academics and researchers to share ideas and plant the seeds of creativity that may help tackle the challenges of the future.
As an associate professor at the Lazardis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, Josephine has conducted extensive research into what is required to inspire people to become innovators in the realm of aging. Essentially, she concludes, organizations must make space for the innovations to happen, just as the RIA and Schlegel Villages have done with this summit.
“It is really exciting to see an organization that has taken the time and the resources to bring people together,” Josephine says as she scans the room of people busily working away at their tables, “that has taken them out of their environment to get them actually doing things that are going to eventually improve care for residents and make their work lives better.”
“What is really awesome is to see how everyone is intermingled,” she continues. “It’s not front-line workers sitting at one table and researchers at another, everybody appears to be very egalitarian.”
And over the course of two days, these innovators will challenge old ways of thinking about health and long-term care while imagining new possibilities to meet an ever-growing demand for better quality. They will prepare for the disruptions to come.
Watch The Village Voice for much more on the 2018 Innovation Summit.