With an estimated 3.5 million U.S. citizens a year expected to reach 65 years-old through 20231, there is more focus on the growing number of tech-savvy seniors (57 percent) who are seeking digital options for managing their health services remotely, according to a new Accenture (NYSE:ACN) survey.
Although many seniors want access to healthcare technology, such as virtual physician consultations (42 percent) and self-serve tools (62 percent) like online appointment scheduling, research shows only a third of healthcare providers currently offer such capabilities.
The growing population of seniors are active online users, as documented by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that shows Internet use between 2000 to 2012 tripled for those 65 and older and doubled among those 50-64 years-old. Accenture’s analysis shows at least three-fourths of Medicare recipients access the Internet, at least once a day, for email (91 percent) or to conduct online searches (73 percent) and a third access social media sites, such as Facebook, at least once a week.
“Just as seniors are turning to the Internet for banking, shopping, entertainment and communications, they also expect to handle certain aspects of their healthcare services online,” said Jill Dailey, managing director of payer strategy, Accenture Health. “What this means for providers and health plans is that they’ll need to expand their digital options if they want to attract older patients and help them track and manage their care outside their doctor’s office.”
Two-thirds of seniors (67 percent) surveyed say that access to their health information is important, but only 28 percent currently have full access to their electronic health records. Similarly, 70 percent of those surveyed believe it’s important to be able to request prescription refills electronically, but, fewer than half (46 percent) say they can do so today. And, the majority (58 percent) want to be able to email healthcare providers, but only 15 percent say they currently have that capability.
“As the digitally engaged senior patient population continues to grow, healthcare systems need to consider the role the Internet can play in making healthcare more convenient for patients of all ages at every touch point,” Dailey added.
1 U.S. Census Bureau: 2011 Estimate of Older Population in the United States, November 2012.
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