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article imageGeneration gap: Seniors not accessing Internet for health

By Tim Sandle     Aug 7, 2016 in Health
A new survey suggests that seniors are not accessing the Internet in high numbers in order to access health information. This is seen by some health experts as a sign of a ‘demographic deficit.’
Accessing information through a digital platform is increasingly becoming the norm (you’ll be reading this article on Digital Journal via a desktop, smartphone or tablet.) Such information includes health advice. This might be to look up signs and symptoms, to read up about the side effects of a drug, or to follow an exercise plan.
One section of the public undertaking this to a lower level are seniors. A new survey, focused on seniors in the U.S., suggests those above a certain age are not using the Internet sufficiently frequently.
FL Health Innovators (@FL_HealthInnov) "Low Rate of Internet Use 4 Seniors #Healthcare. "Sickest, most expensive segment of U.S. is seniors."
Deborah Sunday (@deborahsunday) "#Seniors Shy Away From Using #Internet To Diagnose Health Problems."
The concern is that, according to Tech Times, the most “expensive, fastest and sickest growing segment of the American population are those who are 65 years old and older.” The data was drawn from an annual, nationally representative survey of Medicare patients.
The findings about seniors and computer use has come from Dr. David Levine, who a special interest in digital health technology. The survey covered the period since 2011 to 2014, and examined computer use relating to:
- The use of technology to contact a physician.
- The use of technology to fill prescriptions.
- Digital use to address insurance matters.
- The use for computers for researching health conditions.
While 76 percent of the senior citizens surveyed used cellphones and 64 percent used computers, only 43 percent used Internet. More concerning, only between five and eight percent (depending on age and gender) used the Internet to access health information relating to the above categories.
The research indicates that seniors need to be coached through the use of the Internet and medics need to explain more about the benefits of on-line access to health information. As the research note summarizes: "Digital health is not reaching most seniors and is associated with socioeconomic disparities, raising concern about its ability to improve quality, cost, and safety of their health care. Future innovations should focus on usability, adherence, and scalability to improve the reach and effectiveness of digital health for seniors.”
The full results of the survey are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The paper is titled “Trends in Seniors’ Use of Digital Health Technology in the United States, 2011-2014.”
More about health information, Health, Seniors, digital technology
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