Future of health systems in the digital era: Need for better inclusion of older people!

Recognising the importance of coordinated action to address the digital transformation of health systems, the WHO Regional Committee for Europe approved the “Regional digital health action plan for the WHO European Region 2023– 2030”. This action plan aims to support countries in further developing digital technology in the health sector, aligning their investment with the needs of their national health systems. This transformation should fully respect the values of equity, solidarity and human rights.

To explore these and other important issues affecting current and future health system landscapes WHO Europe together with the Portuguese Government hosted a WHO Symposium on the Future of Health Systems in a Digital Era in the European Region in Porto, on 5–6 September 2023.

Speaking on behalf of AGE our President, Dr. Heidrun Mollenkopf, highlighted the important impact that the rapid digital transformation has on older persons as individuals. To safeguard the rights of older people and promote their future participation in essential areas of life, action is needed to ensure the accessibility, availability, and safety of digital services, but also their right to self determination and choice.

In that respect, AGE President insisted on:

  • the important role of age-friendly environments to avoid exacerbating social and health inequalities and “close the social gap”;
  • the need to involve older users in the development of age-friendly products and services;
  • the implementation of binding directives and laws to finally ensure a user-friendly design for all and protect older users of digital services and applications;
  • the right to remain offline without structural disavantages, according to older persons’ individual needs and preferences.

“Only when social, structural and technical barriers are tackled and overcome in equal measure, can older people take advantages of the positive opportunities offered by the digital development.”



Policy Manager on Healthy Ageing and Accessibility

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