Accenture report highlights digital health priorities for tech-savvy seniors | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Nearly 70 percent of seniors said technology is important to managing their health, according to a new report by Accenture. The survey of more than 10,00 people in 10 countries included 350 American seniors aged 65 and older.

The majority of people interested in these devices are already actively managing their health, which rings true with the quantified self movement. Of those who said they considered technology “very important” in health management, 75 percent monitored their weight, 50 percent monitored their cholesterol and 41 percent tracked their physical activity last year. Those rates are much higher than seniors who say they see no value in using technology to manage their health, according to the report.

Here were the five biggest priorities identified in the survey:

  • Self-care technology to independently manage health. (67 percent)
  • Wearables to track vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure. (62 percent)
  • Online communities to gauge reactions to a doctor’s recommendation (60 percent)
  • Patient navigators (33 percent)
  • Electronic health record management  (25 percent)

About 57 percent of seniors aged 65 and older used their electronic health record to access outcome-related health
data such as lab work and blood test results compared to just 46 percent of younger peers, the report said. Although a little more than one in four said they relied on EHRs for this information, about 42 percent said they expected to rely on EHRs to access health data in the next five years.

Despite the report’s outlook that seniors will embrace digital health in wider numbers, it emphasizes that its power to amplify in-person appointments with doctors, not replace them.

“Ehealth is poised to help increase engagement opportunities and support complex care coordination of the Medicare population. It is a complement, not a substitute, for the human touch in healthcare—at a time in people’s lives when they often need it the most.”

Seniors are a particularly interesting demographic to consider for digital health for a few reasons. They account for a significant portion of the population (40.3 million, according to 2010 U.S. Census data) and a hefty portion of medical expenses as their health declines. But the report’s focus on tech-savvy seniors also reveals its bias towards seniors that enjoy higher incomes. It cites the Pew Internet and American Life Project that of the seniors 65 and older with an annual household income of $75,000 or more, 90 percent go online and 82 percent have broadband at home, both of which are much higher rates compared to this age group overall.

Accenture’s report underscores the need for digital health tools that not only respond to seniors interest in aging in place, but also respond to the broad variety of technology skill levels in such a large, aging population.