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Modern Aging China: Exploring Future Directions for the Chinese Elder Care Market

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Modern Aging China kicked off 2016 with an entrepreneurial community event on January 23, 2016, in Shanghai. The workshop was titled “Policy, Investment, and Innovation in Aging Entrepreneurship.” This workshop, along with all Modern Aging entrepreneurial community events, was organized by ACCESS Health International, Tsinghua Science Park TusStar Incubator, and NPI Nonprofit Organization Incubator.

Wei HanDespite being the coldest day in Shanghai in five years, we had a full house for the event. Wei Han, general manager for Tsinghua Science Park TusStar Incubator Shanghai office spoke first, introducing the TusStar Incubator. She promised a close partnership between the incubator and ACCESS Health on the Modern Aging program. The incubator will provide support services and investment resources to the entrepreneurs in the Modern Aging community.

Chang Liu, the managing director of ACCESS Health International Singapore, Hong Kong, and China, followed Ms. Han with an introduction to ACCESS Health International and the Modern Aging program. Dr. Liu shared ideas of how aging can be different, in terms of the lifestyle of the elderly and the innovation services and products provided for the elderly. He explained that we are bringing the Modern Aging program to China to encourage more people, especially young people, to engage in the elder care industry and to increase the number and quality of businesses that meet the needs of the elderly. Modern Aging will help turn technology innovations into viable business plans to improve the lives of the elderly.

Next, Branda Wang, senior manager of NPI, shared her observations of aging industry. NPI is the leading incubator of nonprofit organizations in China. NPI plans to focus on the aging sector and is developing an incubation center that will cultivate promising not for profit organizations in aging.

Following these three introductory speakers, the event featured keynote addresses from two leaders in aging: Hansheng Ding, the deputy director of the Shanghai Science and Technology Information Institute of Medicine and Shanghai Health Development Research Center, and Chengrui Wan, general manager of the Aging Industry Development Department of TosPur Real Estate Consulting.

DingDr. Ding gave a talk on the need for a unified assessment of elder care in Shanghai. He addressed the importance of assessing elder care. Elder care is often long term in duration.The needs of those who receive care can be complicated and diverse. Assessments of elder care help determine how and when care is provided. Assessments help control the quality of services provided. Dr. Ding shared several examples of how elder care assessments are carried out in other countries, including Germany, Australia, Japan, and the US. He also explained how these countries design care systems to fulfill the needs of elderly who require different levels of care.

After sharing examples of elder care assessments from other countries, Dr. Ding described how elder care is currently assessed in Shanghai, using three different sets of standards. The Department of Civil Affairs assesses the cognitive function of the elderly and their ability to carry out the activities of daily living. Based on that assessment, the Department of Civil Affairs categorizes the individual as being at one of four levels. The Department of Civil Affairs will provide corresponding services based on the level. The Health and Family Planning Commission evaluates patients hospitalized with one of the ten most common ailments afflicting the elderly. The evaluation looks at clinical features, activities of daily living, and mental state. The results indicate whether the patient should stay in the hospital or receive homecare. The Department of Health Insurance estimates the physical condition of the elderly, categorizing the elderly into one of several levels. The Department of Health Insurance provides elder care subsidies corresponding to the specified level.

The lack of unity among the standards creates inefficiency in the system and confusion among the elderly. The municipal government of Shanghai is integrating the three standards into one. The government plans to apply the unified assessment in the near future. The government has faced many challenges in terms of building a team to design and carry out the unified assessment. To operate the unified new assessment sustainably, professional assessment teams are essential. Elder care providers that meet the new assessment standard are also in high demand. The new assessment will emphasize the importance of homecare and community elder care. Startup companies and organizations may find potential business opportunities in those areas. Dr. Ding encouraged the entrepreneurs in attendance to investigate the real needs of the elderly to create better business ideas.

Chengrui WanChengrui Wan spoke about opportunities in an innovative aging industry from industrial and financial perspectives. Mr. Wan has ten years of experience in marketing and communications in the real estate industry. He began to pay close attention to the aging industry four years ago. Since then, he has devoted most of his time to market research and building the business ecosystem around aging. Mr. Wan has analyzed capital involvement in the aging industry. In the current aging market in China, the core players are real estate developers, insurance companies, and professional investment organizations. The main focus of the current Chinese market is on elder care services and homecare providers.

Mr. Wan shared a set of data showing the age distribution and demographics of the Chinese population. The needs of the elderly are growing because the population itself is growing. This rapidly growing population has more income than ever to spend on improving their lives and attending to their own well being. These developments suggest a promising future for business development in the elder care market.

The government encourages the private sector to engage in the aging care market by providing preferential policies. The State Council No. [2013]35 Document encouraged the private sector to drive the elder care industry. The Ministry of Civil Affairs No. [2015]33 Document offered further direction on how the private sector should engage in elder care. Both the public and private sectors have created industry investment funds to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the elder care market.

Mr. Wan discussed some of the major challenges and opportunities in the aging industry. In his view, branding is not yet well addressed, practitioners are not well trained, and most of the aging services are focused on the high end market in big cities. The opportunities for the sector lie in meeting these challenges. Finally, Mr. Wan shared what actions TosPur has taken to create an integrated ecosystem in elder care. TosPur has developed its business from market research in aging to project consultation and to building the ecosystem around the entire industry. The vision of TosPur is to focus on early stage aging service providers and connect them with private capital and the industrial market.

Toward the end of the event, Dr. Liu and the three speakers, Dr. Ding, Mr. Wan, and Ms. Wang, shared their thoughts on the most promising innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities in aging and what services or products they expect to use as they themselves age. The four speakers then engaged in an interactive session with the audience, discussing topics ranging from how quickly the aging industry will be profitable to whether government supported business or private commercial investment was more reliable.

ThumbsUpThe audience remained highly engaged throughout the event. Many attendees applied to join the Modern Aging entrepreneurial community. The entrepreneurial community, called “Lechuangshe,” organizes roadshows, expert lectures, industry workshops, and online educational programs. The entrepreneurial community will connect entrepreneurs to investors and leaders in different business areas related to aging. The program will help spark preliminary ideas and encourage participation in the Modern Aging accelerator. Our accelerator, the centerpiece of all of our Modern Aging programs, will assist in the creation of new enterprises and nonprofit organizations in the aging and healthcare industry.

Modern Aging China plans to hold events on a monthly basis, in both Beijing and Shanghai. The format of the events will range from small group discussions to large forums. Modern Aging China will recruit members into our community of entrepreneurs, cultivate and support innovative business plans, and encourage the entrepreneurship of the younger generation in the aging industry. Stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to join the Modern Aging China community! For updated event notice, please follow our official WeChat account: AccessHealth.

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Qing Liu

Qing Liu

Qing Liu is helping to launch the Modern Aging program in Shanghai.

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