Apps, internet use, and technology in general, are often thought of as the preserve of the “millennials”. It seems as though all thinking, studies, and development caters to those that have grown up in the information age.
However, the Department of Health statistics show those using pharmacies the most are Generation X, Baby Boomers and upwards. For women, this is 35–74, but it’s even more concentrated with male users at 55 and over.
Of course, we know that the internet usage of those over 55 is lower than those aged 16–24, but they’re more connected than ever, and it’s only on the rise. Let’s look at how this group is moving into the digital space, and our opportunities to connect them with healthcare technology. This is vital in an ageing group who may soon be unable to access pharmaceutical services physically.
Technology Through the Ages
Not only are more of the senior generation online than ever before, but the user base is always growing. Recent internet usage by retired adults has increased by almost 25% since 2011, including 80% of 65–74-year-olds now being online. Deloitte has found that those over 55 have enjoyed a faster technology adoption rate than any other group over the last five years.
Furthermore, we can identify trends in where time online is spent. Where the US is concerned, the American Association of Retired Persons has found that 42% of those over 50 use technological devices to access health and fitness information, and 32% use them to manage or receive medical care.
Services like Healthera’s app are the kinds of tools with which we can strengthen these groups’ healthcare provision, and the appetite is there for it. Smartphone users aged 55–64 spend just over 55 hours per month using apps, and even those over 64 clock up to 42 hours. For both groups, that’s more than an hour a day.
Making Space for Senior Tech Users
We can guess why older generations might be more likely to go into a pharmacy than contacting them virtually; traditional sources of information or a preference for face-to-face interaction, for example.
Perhaps based on assumptions and a general dismissal in favour of the younger market, apps and technology services have some catching up to do for this burgeoning older demographic. Factors such as ease of searching, text and icon size, and troubleshooting often don’t consider older people.
Age UK has published a technology review highlighting some of these findings in terms of accessibility. We’re not alone in realising that there’s clearly the interest, with the government calling for a strategy to integrate technology into health and social care.
Population Health Technology
The importance of technology in healthcare has become more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been how people have remained connected to their healthcare providers. The past year has seen a significant increase in emerging technologies in population health, with many tech-based companies developing ways to become part of the healthcare industry.
It’s important that the variety of demographics in healthcare are considered when developing population health management technology. Changing demographic trends, including how different age groups consume technology, receive their healthcare, and what their expectations are, significantly impacts what health services they need.
It’s important that health tech consistently develops and advances at the right pace for the needs of all demographics, ensuring that new and emerging technologies are used to their fullest potential whilst never leaving anyone behind.
Healthera operates a leading healthcare marketplace that provides patients with medicines, healthcare services and products through the largest digital platform of pharmacies and GPs in the UK, including national chains and independent providers. Download Healthera App to order NHS repeat prescription online!