Chances are good that when you think of patient engagement for senior patients, your first thought isn’t “tech-savvy.” However, a surprising number of seniors are adopting technology and incorporating it into everyday life—especially when it comes to healthcare. Check out the results of a recent study on technology and healthcare conducted by the AARP:
- 87 percent say that accessible, secure information-sharing between individuals and healthcare professionals would improve their health.
- Over 60 percent say that digital technology plays an important role in managing their health.
- More than 90 percent reported that technology gives them more independence.
The long-held myth that older patients aren’t interested in all these new-fangled gadgets is beginning to give way to the reality that those 65 years of age or older actually want more technology in their healthcare. In fact, 67 percent of seniors in that age bracket who use technology frequently want even greater access to healthcare services, especially from home.
Seniors who place a high priority on technology are looking for ways to better manage their healthcare. They seek out information and programs to help them track their weight, monitor their cholesterol, or research health information. This usage represents a growing segment of start-up funding in the US.
Keeping seniors healthy and involved in their own care requires only moderate changes to your regular patient engagement programs. When you move away from the assumptions and look at the facts, senior patients really do seek to use digital options for patient engagement. With that knowledge in hand, here are some of the ways seniors are looking to engage:
Self-Care - More than two-in-three seniors prefer to use self-care technology to independently manage their health. According to research by AARP, this ability to monitor their health is giving seniors greater autonomy and independence in their lives - something they have a strong desire for. Providing patient engagement and education materials through email or other means will allow for improved self-care for senior patients.
Health Record Management - Many seniors use electronic health records for managing their health, such as accessing lab results and reviewing their provider’s notes. Patient portals make this an easy option for seniors as a growing percentage of them rely on their smartphones, laptops and desktop computers. Between 2013-2017, the number of senior citizens with a smartphone doubled, reaching more than 40 percent. More than one in three own a tablet. As more digital tools become available, this will become an even greater area of use for patient engagement with seniors.
Internet Use - According to the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of seniors over age 65 are active Internet users. Like many adults, they are using this resource to access health information, so using it to provide patient engagement and education is a great way to reach that audience.
As the senior population continues to grow with the last of the baby boomers reaching their mid- to late-fifties, the demand for technology that facilitates healthcare for this population will also grow. Enhancing your patient engagement options to include digital and Internet-based offerings will allow you to more effectively serve this population in your practice.
To learn more about how technology can benefit your practice, read the following free guide:
Oldie but goodie! This post was originally published in Sep 2016 and updated in Mar 2018 as part of an on-going series highlighting popular past posts.