Cyber seniors:
How AI is revolutionizing care of the elderly and beyond

Keep it brief

  • As aging populations put increasing pressure on resources, the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare is on the rise
  • Robots are fast becoming indispensable assistants in care of the elderly across the world
  • Varied use of robotic technology across the healthcare industry could help us save both lives and money
  • Innovations in the AI and robotics space could represent an interesting opportunity for investors

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Worldwide almost every nation is grappling with a similar social shift: a growing aging population (United Nations, 2017). Older populations require more intensive healthcare needs, but Baby Boomer doctors, nurses and caregivers are nearing retirement, meaning many regions now have a shortage of healthcare workers. In fact, The World Health Organization reports that over 45% of its member states have fewer than 1 physician per 1,000 people (Density of Physicians, February 2018).

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1 in 3

American doctors will be over 65 in the next decade.

Association of American Medical Colleges, April 2018.

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AI meets healthcare

From Japan to Italy, countries are developing a new cyber solution for their healthcare challenges: elder-friendly artificial intelligence. New robotic technologies can help address the shortage of healthcare workers by monitoring, teaching and treating patients. With many doctors exiting the workforce we are on the cusp of artificial intelligence becoming an integral part of healthcare.

The robot revolution: past, present and future >

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Robots teach exercise lessons in Japan

The Japanese government has been funding the deployment and development of robots for elders (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, March 2018). One popular robot for elders is Pepper by SoftBank Robotics Corp. - a clever robot that can gradually learn your personality and preferences. Pepper is a fun toy for residents; it can play games, hold conversations and teach basic exercise classes. Most importantly, it provides much-needed support to workers in Japanese care homes. Shintomi Nursing Home in Tokyo already uses 20 different models of robots.

Robots teach exercise lessons in Japan

Rob Powell, a lead strategist for the iShares thematic ETF range, says that the eldercare robots in Japan are part of a wider trend. According to Powell, companies around the globe are inventing new ways to support the aging demographic through robotics. "As Baby Boomers start to exit the workforce, fewer people are entering the workplace at the other end," says Powell.

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How robotics is
improving healthcare for all

AI and robotics are not only being leveraged for care of the elderly. Robotic technology is playing an increasingly important role across the entire healthcare ecosystem. AI is already helping doctors detect, diagnose and treat diseases more efficiently and accurately, which can be crucial for life-threatening diseases, such as cancer.

Recently, new artificial intelligence software has enabled doctors to review mammograms 30 times quicker with 99% accuracy, reducing the need for invasive surgery.

— Houston Methodist Research Institute, August 2016.

Beyond improving patient care, robotic technologies have also helped improve how doctors train and research. Overall, Frost & Sullivan estimate that AI and cognitive computing can help the healthcare industry save over $150 billion by 2025 (Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Takes Precision Medicine to the Next Level, September 2018).

$150bn

AI and cognitive computing can help the healthcare industry save over $150 billion by 2025.

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Advancements in AI and robotics:
Unlock potential opportunity

Overall, the global market for AI in healthcare is projected to reach $22.79 billion by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48.7% from 2017-2023 (Allied Market Research, March 2018).

The growth of the healthcare and robotics market is fuelled by many factors from a growing elder population to more health-conscious consumers. All of these factors could present an opportunity for technology companies as well as investors.

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Investing in megatrends with iShares

For those wishing to invest in any of these themes - AI and robotics, healthcare innovation, or the ageing population phenomenon - ETFs may help provide efficient, transparent market access. With a wide range of products tracking tech indices, ETFs could offer a convenient and cost-efficient way to incorporate megatrends into a portfolio.

Unlock opportunity with iShares Thematic ETFs > Explore these Megatrends in action > Read the latest edition of Thematic Thinking >

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product or to adopt any investment strategy.