Throughout the world, populations are aging, driving the need for increased health care resources. By 2025 more than one person in five throughout the world—approaching two billion people overall—will be over the age of 60, according to United Nations population estimates. Many of these people are in developing countries, where rising standards of living also bring greater demand for health services for the rest of the population. In the United States, recent policy changes have brought millions more people into the increasingly crowded health care system, and globally, the Internet is helping consumers make more informed choices when they need medical attention. These are just a few developments that highlight why more effective health care delivery is needed to reach more people now and in the years to come.
To some extent, solving this resource problem means having more doctors, nurses, hospitals, pharmaceutical supplies and all the other elements traditionally associated with medical treatment. But even in a traditional hospital environment, efficiency of resources and equipment need to evolve to meet the demands. And however necessary medical staff and facilities may be, there is also a need for more deliberate personal ownership of health. People must take care of themselves, limiting their need for some professional medical services by keeping fit and healthy. As a society, in North America and throughout the world, we will have to learn to lead healthier lives while we seek new solutions for the enormous health care challenges that lie ahead. An important contributor to helping us meet those challenges in both clinical and home environments is electronic technology, including advancements such as bio-inspired sensing and health monitoring for use at home and on the go.