Increasingly tech-savvy, two-thirds of the 3.9 million Americans that will be considered seniors (reaching 65) in 2015 would like greater access to online home health care networks and technology, according to Accenture. A large majority (66 percent) are concerned “today’s technology isn’t sufficient to do so,” however.
Those seniors who consider technology a high priority “are more likely to proactively manage their health,” Accenture points out in a press release. Three-quarters of seniors who value technology actively track their weight using digital technology as compared to 43 percent of those who don’t, according to Accenture. Furthermore, 50 percent of tech-savvy U.S. seniors are actively monitoring their cholesterol as compared to 31 percent of those who don’t value technology.
“Just as seniors are turning to digital tools for banking, shopping, entertainment and communications, they also expect to handle certain aspects of their healthcare services online,” Kaveh Safavi M.D., global managing director of Accenture’s health business, was quoted as saying. “What this means for healthcare systems is that they need to consider the role that digital technology can play in making healthcare more convenient for patients of all ages at every touch point.”
The Pew Research Center estimates nearly six in ten people 65 and over (59 percent) actively used the Internet in 2012-2013, Accenture notes. According to its own research, the most-cited reason most U.S. seniors (62 percent) venture online was to find health information.
In addition, 20 percent said they want access to virtual consultations with physicians. Less than one-third of health care providers offer such consultations, however.
Over half (57 percent) of U.S. state and local government long-term care agencies surveyed by Accenture in other research believe technology has a key role to play in addressing the challenges of an aging U.S. population.
Seniors Willing to Wear Health Monitors
Surveying U.S. seniors, Accenture found respondents are interested in making use of the following digital technology applications to better manage their health:
- Self-care: More than two-in-three seniors prefer to use self-care technology to independently manage their health. AARP estimates start-up funding in this area grew to $166 million in 2013, up from $143 million in 2012;
- Wearables: More than three-in-five seniors are willing to wear a health-monitoring device to track vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure. AARP estimates $266 million in funding was invested in this area in 2013, more than 2011 and 2012 combined;
- Online Communities: Three-in-five seniors are somewhat or very likely to turn to online communities, such as Patient Like Me, for reactions to a doctor’s recommendation before acting on it. AARP estimates funding for these platforms rose to $142 million in 2013;
- Navigating Healthcare: A third of seniors would prefer to work with a patient navigator to manage their healthcare. Last year, $384 million was invested in solutions, like patient navigators, for care navigation;
- Health Record Management: A quarter of seniors regularly use electronic health records for managing their health, such as accessing lab results (57 percent). Projections by Accenture suggest it will grow to 42 percent in five years, as consumer-facing tools increase.