PatientEngagementHIT

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Seniors Want Patient Engagement Technology for Care Management

Nearly 60 percent of senior patients have concerns about the future of health, but believe patient engagement technology will help with their own care management.

patient engagement technology

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Fifty-nine percent of senior patients (age 55 and older) have concerns about their healthcare going forward, according to a recent survey conducted by Toluna on behalf of Alignment Healthcare. Patient engagement technology will help seniors connect with their providers, manage their own health, and see their health concerns assuaged.

Senior patients are a difficult population for the healthcare industry. One in three of the 1,000 survey respondents said they are managing at least one chronic condition. Twenty percent of patients said they are managing heart disease, which per the CDC is the leading cause of death.

These patients are also an expensive population, the survey authors reported. Senior patients account for about 13 percent of all patients, and yet 34 percent of healthcare costs stem from senior care encounters.

These issues are concerning for patients, the survey revealed. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they are anxious about impending changes to their healthcare.

For 70 percent of patients, these concerns are related to Medicare and Medicaid. Seventy-six percent of 55- to 59-year-olds are worried about the health programs, which is notable because these patients are the next generation to age into Medicare. Only 66 percent of patients over the age of 70 are worried about Medicare and Medicaid.

Fifty-four percent of patients say costs are their biggest healthcare concerns, while the same number of patients say accessing the right type of care is a worry. The issue of receiving adequate healthcare is exacerbated for patients in the Midwest (58 percent of patients) and women (57 percent, compared to 51 percent of men).

Patient engagement technology and access to health information will help patients overcome these concerns and improve their own health, the survey respondents reported. Seventy percent of patients said access to better health information will help them with chronic disease management. Patients also said they wanted access to technology that would help them connect with their physicians.

In fact, most patients want more and better access to their physicians. Two-thirds of patients currently visit their doctors at least once every six months, but most say that these visits are insufficient. They are too short (often as short as 10 minutes), and do not provide the information about medical conditions, treatment options, and chronic care management techniques that patients want and need.

Seventy-six percent of respondents said they want more information about how to improve their own health, 63 percent want more information about how to treat a condition and different treatment options, and 60 percent said they need this information in more understandable, everyday language.

Patients also expressed interested in “concierge” access to medicine. Not to be confused with traditional concierge medicine in which a patient pays a capitated monthly fee for access to a provider, patients are looking for home visits from their doctors to make care access easier.

One in ten respondents said they wanted home visits from their doctors and complimentary transportation to office visits. Twenty-one percent want on-demand access to a doctor via telehealth, while 24 percent expressed interest in receiving notifications for remote patient monitoring.

One in three patients want access to same-day appointments.

Patient engagement technology will help patients receive the type of care they want, the respondents suggested.

Thirty-five percent of patients said their health plans do not adequately use health technology to make healthcare easier. Patients said they do not have technology options to help with appointment scheduling or medical records access.

Primarily, patients want to use patient engagement technology to talk to or see their providers on a phone or tablet, manage their own medical records, and send email messages or images to their doctors.

Patients also want health technology to help them age in place. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they plan on aging in their own homes or apartments, meaning they do not want to move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Eighty-nine percent of patients said they want to manage their own healthcare and will need health technology access to do so.

The healthcare industry is constantly innovating, the survey respondents acknowledged. With evolving technology available to patients, senior populations have hope that their health worries will subside. However, patients will need access to patient engagement technology to better support their own efforts for healthcare management.

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