New Zealand companies collaborate to accelerate technology and market the development of digital health monitoring for the aging population.

Bupa, a leading international healthcare group, has teamed up with New Zealand-based remote health monitoring developer, Vigil, to help get innovative elder care solutions to market faster.

According to the terms of the transaction, Bupa will receive a 25% stake in Vigil’s business in exchange for its NZ$5 million investment. Bupa’s investment follows Spark Venture’s NZ$5 million investment in Vigil, which accelerated the development of Vigil’s remote patient monitoring system designed for New Zealand’s aging population.

New Zealand’s 65+ Age Group Is Growing Fast, and Living at Home Longer

Currently, it is estimated that New Zealand has 650,000 residents over the age of 65. Statistics New Zealand estimates that this age group will grow to more than 1 million residents by the late 2020s. This growth would take the 65+ age group from 14% of the population currently to 20-22% of the total population in New Zealand.

Combined with a longer life expectancy, New Zealand’s aging population is expected to tax the resources of government and families over the next several decades.

Professor Cliff Abraham of the University of Otago, New Zealand, believes that problems related to neurodegenerative disease and stroke in New Zealand’s aging population should have “immense personal, social, physiological, and healthcare costs that will increase dramatically over time.”

Further taxing New Zealand’s resources, advances in preventive behaviors and medicine mean that New Zealanders living longer. The majority of those over 65 are opting to remain at home, which some call aging in-place, rather than going into long-term care facilities.

Of the 650,000 people over the age of 65 living in New Zealand, approximately 430,000 still live independently or with family members who are their primary caregivers. Almost 90% of these caregivers are juggling paying jobs in addition to their responsibilities to older generations.

Digital Health Solutions to Improve Outcomes of Independent Living

Vigil’s mHealth monitoring platform is an in-home medical alarm system designed with independent aging individuals and their families in mind. Using wireless technology, Vigil sends physiological data to family members and health care providers, giving wearers peace of mind while making the most of their independence.

Vigil’s remote monitoring system requires two pieces of equipment: a wearable pendant, as well as a home base unit that wirelessly connects the pendant to both local emergency responders and responsible family members.

The pendant is a wearable sensor that monitors its wearer’s physiological information in real-time, alerting family members to any significant changes in vital signs or physical activity. Changes in activity levels are important to track, as they often indicate that a fall is likely to occur.

The monitoring platform informs loved ones if the pendant is not being worn, or if the wearer gets outside the range of the wireless base. If the wearer presses the emergency response button, designated family members and local emergency responders are called. Additionally, caregivers are alerted to significant changes in the temperature of their loved one’s home, as well as any loss of power or phone coverage.

With Vigil, Families Share in the Care of Loved Ones, from Wherever They Are

Vigil’s real-time health monitoring and alert technology system gathers biometric, environmental, and activity data for sharing with family members and healthcare providers. Thanks to these updates, family members can run errands or even live in a different country and be assured that they will receive the information they need to give advise or make decisions about their loved one’s health status.

Bupa’s investment in Vigil underscores its stated commitment to making quality healthcare, focused on patient needs, more affordable and accessible in the areas of wellness and chronic disease management.

Jenn Lonzer has a B.A. in English from Cleveland State University and an M.A. in Health Communication from Johns Hopkins University. Passionate about access to care and social justice issues, Jenn writes on global digital health developments, research, and trends. Follow Jenn on Twitter @jnnprater3.