As Boomers Become Seniors, Healthcare Technology Demand Grows - InformationWeek

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As Boomers Become Seniors, Healthcare Technology Demand Grows

With baby boomers all grown up, a new generation of tech-savvy seniors is emerging.

Tech-savvy seniors will begin to enter the healthcare market in the coming years, so the industry needs to prepare for this new type of aging patient. An estimated 3.5 million US citizens a year are expected to reach 65-years-old through 2023, according to an Accenture study. Internet use from 2000 to 2012 tripled for those 65 and older, and doubled among those 50 to 64-years-old, as documented by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

A different study found 73 percent of baby boomers and Generation Xers want to age in their own home, and 95 percent don't think today's technology will allow them to do so. Georgetown University's Global Social Enterprise Initiative and Philips surveyed current and future seniors' attitudes on technology, finding most boomers and Gen Xers skeptical of the technology that awaits them as they enter their senior years.

[ Unsolved problem: Medicare Drags Feet On Secure Patient IDs.]

"Among the people already in their elderly years, they're not technology experts because they didn't grow up with it," said Bill Novelli, a professor at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business. "But as boomers age, they're much more facile with technology."

(Source: Ruth Ellison, CC-BY)
(Source: Ruth Ellison, CC-BY)

The technology is getting there, but the overall strategy has a ways to go, Novelli said. The key lies in understanding the aging audience and their specific needs. The technology doesn't end with remote patient monitoring devices. These new seniors want community engagement, and are looking to technology to take them there.

"When people are at home and not connected, social isolation is debilitating," Novelli said. "People want to be connected and feel productive. These are the things technology can help with—interconnectivity and coordination."

The current senior population has limited engagement with healthcare technology. Two-thirds of seniors surveyed by Accenture said access to health information is important, but only 28% have full access to their electronic health records. Almost 60% want to email providers, but only 15% say they currently have that capability.

“Just as seniors are turning to the Internet for banking, shopping, entertainment and communications, they also expect to handle certain aspects of their healthcare services online,” said Jill Dailey, managing director of payer strategy at Accenture Health. “What this means for providers and health plans is that they’ll need to expand their digital options if they want to attract older patients and help them track and manage their care outside their doctor’s office.”

The aging population is experienced with technology and less concerned with privacy than current seniors, Novelli said. They want to use technology to engage and receive access to their care beyond at-home monitoring devices.

“As the digitally engaged senior patient population continues to grow, healthcare systems need to consider the role the Internet can play in making healthcare more convenient for patients of all ages at every touch point,” Dailey said.

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/4/2013 | 8:58:31 AM
Re: Boomers
There is a huge market for technology for the aging population.  Today, there is no killer app, but there is a lot of money being thrown at this market.  I sell Assistive Living Tech to the current senior population and the uptake is slow; however interest is high.  What will matter to Boomers is technology that is easy to use and personal and will most likley be something they wear or is connected to their smartphone that has GPS, Fitness and the ability to track and record their vitals, BP, weight. etc.  At the moment, I see a lot of noise and not much signal in terrms of product. The current state of HC tech reminds me of the mid to late 90's and the internet bubble.      
Muthu LeesaJ889
Muthu LeesaJ889,
User Rank: Moderator
11/29/2013 | 2:01:13 AM
Mobility will rule the scene
In this highly connected era, the necessities of a tech-savvy old age population will be a far cry from that of their previous generations. Technology has to step-up to cater to their needs and there will be a significant impact on the whole mHealth revolution.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/27/2013 | 1:05:15 AM
Re: Boomers
Couldn't agree more Alex. We've just launched the Aging2.0 GENerator program to help early 11 stage tech companies better address the 50+ demographic.  As part of that we've put together a consumer panel to give access to the latest gadgets to the older adults themselves: 

Happy to provide more info if useful.



Alex Kane Rudansky
Alex Kane Rudansky,
User Rank: Author
11/26/2013 | 10:34:49 AM
Any boomers out there with opinions on the future of healthcare technology?
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