The conference was led by Prof. Brad Staats, who heads UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Business of Health Care Initiative, and Prof. James H. Johnson, Jr., director of Education, Aging, and Economic Development Initiatives for the Kenan Institute. Citing statistics that show that the 65-and-older population of North Carolina grew by 45 percent between 2000 and 2015, Johnson outlined the theme of the conference, saying, “I think aging can be an engine for economic growth and development.”
Six breakout sessions addressed the theme through topics such as innovations in long term services and supports, the economics of aging, pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing, hospital operations and emergency care, challenges and opportunities in long-term care, and digital technologies for adaptive aging and wellness.
During one such session, Dr. G. Lawrence Atkins, executive director of the Long-Term Quality Alliance, talked about the need to improve the current U.S. healthcare system to be prepared for what he calls the “silver tsunami phenomenon,” describing how America’s population is both living longer and increasing in number. This tsunami, Atkins said, means that “we need to transform the way we provide home care,” and that care must be “engineered from the population up.”
Dr. Robyn Stone, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center and the University of Massachusetts, spoke about the necessity of improving programs and partnering with new technologies like Uber which can enable businesses to “do good and make money at the same time.”
Other speakers discussed issues such as how to ensure that neighborhoods remain viable for the elderly; ways to improve emergency room and ICU care; opportunities for older individuals to stay in the workforce longer; and combatting age discrimination.
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