Do “Old People” Want Digital Engagement?

February 23, 2014
215 Views

I know: the last thing seniors want is to be called “old people.” But as patients, do they want to be engaged using online and mobile technology?

wellbe-seniors-whitepaper

I know: the last thing seniors want is to be called “old people.” But as patients, do they want to be engaged using online and mobile technology?

wellbe-seniors-whitepaper

Although the world’s online revolution has affected all aspects of consumer life, including banking, travel, shopping and media, the elderly population has often been left out or ignored, because of a widespread assumption that they don’t use online tools.  As a result, institutions often implement more costly and resource-intensive methods – like phone calls, home visits, and office encounters – to connect with and engage this demographic.

Pew Research says that 52% of those who are 65 or older use the internet (barely the majority). So maybe those healthcare providers who treat the elderly that are refusing to adopt online solutions have solid reasoning to stand on.

But not for long, because the “boomers” are coming… and Pew says of those between 50 and 64, 77 percent of them are using the internet. And it’s growing. Here are a couple more stats:

  • 42% of mobile phone owners 55 and older now have smartphones, according to Nielsen. They are quickly adopting tablets too.
     
  • Pew says seniors are the fastest social media adopters in the U.S. (jumping from 26% to 43% of those 65+ in the past 3 years)
     
  • Accenture recently found that 67% of seniors surveyed say that access to their health information is important, but only 28 percent currently have full access to their electronic health records.

Oftentimes, as patients age, a younger caregiver is responsible for managing their health, and with busy careers and families, would appreciate the use of online tools for their patient. After all, 43.5 million adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age, says the Family Caregiver Alliance.

If you ignore patient demand for online tools only because “Medicare patients won’t use it,” you’re catering to the minority, not the majority. And just a few years down the road, your Medicare population may become the most active users of these tools, so it’s better to get in front of this trend now.

It’s no longer a question of “if,” but “when” providers will need to adopt online solutions to help all their patients. The last thing providers want is to be seen as behind the times or as “old people” themselves.

Read how Butler Health System engaged a senior audience (total joint replacements) using online engagement in Becker’s Hospital Review.

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