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Senior Citizens Still Not into Wearable Healthcare


WebMD survey – Millennials and Senior Citizens are the least likely to use wearable fitness (Health) trackers.

Generally speaking, those born prior to 1942 are the least likely to use these devices according to a survey of 2,600 WebMD users, was the message presented today at HIMSS16 in Las Vegas.  But the respondents, some born after 1942, gave very different reasons for why they don’t use these tools.

“Millennials were more likely to select cost as their reason for not wearing their devices,” said Christina Hoffman, VP Quality and Strategy at Medscape during her presentation.  “On the other end of the spectrum, the Silent Generation (born prior to 1942) says the reason they don’t is because a doctor hasn’t recommended it.  What’s the opportunity here?  The implication is that Millennials might benefit from free devices and older generations, if the doctor says to them ‘this might be helpful to you’, they’ll do it.”

That same trend, of patients being more likely to engage in a behavior with a doctor’s recommendation, held for patient portals across all generations.  That is, the greatest predictor of patient portal use was whether the patients doctor recommended it.

“If the doctor recommends that they register for the portal, not the administrative person but the doctor themselves makes the recommendation, it’s nearly a 100% uptake,” said Hoffman.

The survey, and a companion survey of 195 clinicians, looked at four distinct generational groups: Silents, baby boomers, Generation X, and Millennials.  They found different generations used portals differently: by and large, Silents used only a few features, checking labs and ordering prescriptions refills, while Millennials used a broad range but were most likely to use it to check benefits and coverage.

Some general findings were also interesting.  Baby boomers were most likely to follow a prescribed treatment plan.  Boomers and Silents were most likely to proactively bring information to their doctors.  Millennials were among the least comfortable talking to their doctors and were less likely to know when to call their doctor.

“Millennials are not likely to engage until they need to do so, but once they’re ready we need to be ready for them,” said Jamie DeMaria, SVP of education at Medscape.  “They consume content differently than all other individuals.”

On the provider side, millennial doctors were the least likely to report being generally able to tell if their patients were engaged.  This could simply be a result of that cohort being younger and less experienced, noted DeMaria.

Across the board, only 31% of physicians said they recommended wearable devices to their patients.  Of those that did, 67% said the biggest benefit of wearables was motivating individuals to follow a treatment plan.  Just 20% cited the patient-generated data such a device would provide. (Now that’s very interesting!)

“Nearly 70% aren’t recommending [wearables]” said DeMaria.  “And when we went back and we looked at why, the physicians gave the same reasons the patient gave: cost, too difficult to use, what is this data going to be used for and how to use that data.  Some physicians have figured out how to incorporate that data, but the vast majority still haven’t.”

Read Article (Jonah Comstock | | 03/02/2016)

  1. So for years the assumption was, patients would accept recommendations from an Administrative assistant, until this survey?  And I really don’t like their reference to those born before 1942 as “the Silent generation”.
  2. On man, here’s another individual(s) that assumes technology is intuitive to all generations, and that it’s portal code format is user friendly to all generations.  And stop using the term “Portal”, that term refers to a video game, not a website login (Wikipedia). To effectively communicate and serve older adults, you must understand older adults and cater to them.
  3. Well, it appears wearable health data collection serves no purpose in helping senior citizens manage their health. (But this information is sold for millions.)
  4. Back to the “Silents”, consider this: Senior Citizens control about 33% of the wealth in United States, and referring to them as “the Silent generation” does not show them Respect.

…sorry for the rant.  I do understand your intentions are well meant.

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