As we’re considering alternatives to at-home healthcare for elderly patients, medical technology is what we turn to. Age-tech is not only more cost-effective, but it also allows older patients to maintain their autonomy and independence as they age.  

But when it comes to older patients, there’s a stigma that they don’t want to—or can’t—use technology. These are the questions we’re investigating today: Do older patients want to use healthcare technology? What barriers make healthcare technology challenging for the older generation, and how can we overcome them?   

Most elderly patients are using technology in their daily lives

Younger generations have grown up with technology, which makes it less complicated to pick up and learn quickly. But what about older generations who haven’t had the benefit of learning how to use technology from a young age? 

Although we typically imagine elderly patients struggling to use technology, 61% of people 65 and older own a smartphone. Even more—75% of elderly patients—are internet users. And finally, 56% of seniors send text messages daily. While there’s a common stereotype that elderly patients are unable to use technology, the vast majority of them are already using it in their daily lives.  

But what about medical technology specifically? Here are the statistics: 

  • 40% of elderly patients want to use technology for medication management. 
  • 21% of older patients want to use telehealth to video conference with their doctors. 
  • 53% want their health to be managed by a mix of technology and healthcare staff. 
  • 66% of older patients say they’re comfortable sharing their health data with their providers via technology. 
  • 3 in 4 older Americans want to age in their homes with the help of technology. 

Not only are the majority of seniors comfortable using technology, but they’re ready to use it to manage their health. Yet even still, some seniors are being left behind in the new digital age.   

A deep dive into the digital divide

When it comes to developing digital skills, seniors are closing the generational gap and catching up to their younger counterparts. However, there’s still a digital divide among seniors. This gap in technology usage is mainly due to polarizing attitudes toward technology.  

Seniors are categorized into these five groups to help us understand their different attitudes towards age-tech. 

Here are the two senior groups that are least likely to use technology:  

  • Old traditionalists: This makes up 20% of the elderly population. These elderly patients typically don’t have children, are isolated, and have fewer devices than the average senior.  
  • Striving pensioners: These seniors make up 26% of the elderly population, and they’re likely to live alone, have health or financial problems, and have few devices. However, they’re likely to watch TV more often than other seniors.

The next senior group is likely to use technology on an average level: 

  • Sociable grandparents: These seniors make up 25% of the elderly population. They’re likely to be married and socialize often. They don’t often feel lonely in comparison to other seniors. 

Here are the last two senior groups. These two are only about 3 in 10 of all seniors. They’re likely to use the internet and technology more than the average senior:  

  • Mature life connoisseurs: 13% of the elderly population, these seniors are typically married, highly educated, and have steady finances. They’re likely to be more active and social than other seniors.  
  • Aging techies: Making up 16% of the senior population, these elderly patients show a high level of excitement for technology. They’re often well-educated, active, make good money, and socialize often.  

Clearly, there is a large gap in technology usage among seniors themselves. So how can we go about bridging the gap so that more seniors use medical technology? 

How to drive higher age-tech usage in elderly patients 

Among the two groups of elderly patients that are less likely to use technology, we can see some common themes:  

  • They are less likely to have family and friends that can help them navigate new technologies.  
  • They’re more likely to face physical challenges, such as hearing loss, that makes using technology harder. 
  • They often don’t have exposable income, meaning they can’t constantly buy new technologies. 

Here are our recommendations to help these seniors access medical technologies: 

  • Provide detailed instructions on how to use age-tech. For example, create easy-to-understand instructions to help.  
  • If physical constraints, such as hearing loss or visual impairments, are affecting a senior’s use of age-tech, provide them with alternative options to help them overcome that barrier. For example, for patients with hearing loss, a healthcare messaging system may be better than a virtual appointment or phone call. 
  • Help patients understand their financial assistance options. 

Finally, if you’re creating your own healthcare app, focus on making user experience accessible for all. This involves asking elderly patients about their preferences and abilities during research and development phases.  

Turn to age-tech that was created for seniors

While many age-tech options are created “top-down,” with seniors as an afterthought, the Ōmcare Home Health Hub® was developed specifically to help seniors use it with ease. Seniors want to use healthcare technology, so we’ve made it easier for them to do so. The Ōmcare Home Health Hub connects elderly patients with providers and helps them manage their medications. Reach out to Ōmcare today to learn more.