IF Mash-Up Looks at Human Health & Life Spans

IdeaFestivalThe IdeaFestival has long been a “you heard it here first” kind of event, bringing together thought leaders to discuss emerging trends. Of particular interest in the Louisville region, home to Humana and several lifelong wellness and aging care companies, is how advancements in technology will impact the future of health and longevity. IF founder Kris Kimmel moderated a panel discussion with health care experts to talk about where we might be headed as a society.

One key theme was that health care undeniably has a huge impact on the economy. As we learn to slow down aging and prevent and cure disease, companies like Humana try to anticipate how this might change consumer demand. According to Shankar Ram, vice president of innovation at Humana Inc., one trend impacting the company’s strategy is that people are taking more of a personal investment in health.

Humana is currently looking at ways to encourage entire families to be more active by leveraging technology. Ram said that it’s important to get young people to embrace what is going on socially, citing Apple’s iPad as a good example. It’s possible, he added, that in the future we could have apps connected to devices in our body to help detect early disease.

Aside from curing and preventing disease, IF attendee Dr. James Bower with the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, said we may be closer to living longer than we think. Dr. Bower says that researchers are now looking at aging applications for drugs that are already approved for other uses in humans.

Down the road, experts agree that living longer brings new societal issues and access is one area where consumers and providers will likely face difficulty. Economically speaking, the Louisville region is well-positioned. “Louisville has more headquarters of lifelong wellness companies and aging care providers than any other city in the country,” said John Reinhart, CEO and founding partner of Louisville-based InnovateLTC. According to Greater Louisville Inc., there are 18,000 professionals producing more than $48 billion in revenue in this industry locally.

Ram and Reinhart were joined on the panel by Therese White, a medical student at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. As for living longer, while technology is having an impact, White said, “Exercise continues to be the key.”