Tech-savvy seniors crave for online access to health services

Survey results

Around 3.9 million Americans are reaching 65 years old this year, and majority of them (66%) wants to access healthcare services from home, though 66% believe that what’s being offered today isn’t sufficient to do so.

“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,” said Kaveh Safavi M.D., global managing director of Accenture’s health business. “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.”

66% of senior respondents believe that what’s being offered today isn’t up for the task.The Accenture survey — conducted with 10,730 adults across 10 countries (United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Spain, Norway, Japan, Singapore and the United Kingdom), including 354 U.S. seniors receiving Medicare benefits — has found that seniors who place a higher priority on technology are more likely to proactively manage their health. For example, this group is more willing to track their weight digitally (75%) and monitor their cholesterol (50%).

The survey results also indicate a few digital technology applications seniors can use to better manage their healthcare, including:

1. Self-care. More than two-in-three seniors prefer to use self-care technology to independently manage their health.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Navigating Healthcare. A third of seniors would prefer to work with a patient navigator to manage their healthcare.
5. Health Record Management. A quarter of seniors regularly use electronic health records for managing their health, such as accessing lab results (57%).

The top reason for most seniors (62%) to go online was to find health information.Other Accenture research found over half (57%) of officials from U.S. state and local government long-term care agencies believe the use of more technology will have an important role in alleviating the challenges of an increasingly older population. Those officials also projected the growing demand for elderly care services will have the most impact over the next decade, while U.S. census data indicates the rising wave of seniors will grow beyond 2025.

The top reason for most seniors (62%) to go online was to find health information. They want access to healthcare technology, such as virtual physician consultations (20%), but less than a third of healthcare providers offer such capabilities.