Survey: Age Gap Seen Between Younger, Older Consumers on Technology, Engagement

July 22, 2021
A newly released survey of consumers has uncovered a very significant gap between younger and older healthcare consumers around how they would like to use technology to engage with clinicians in their care delivery

A newly released survey of consumers has uncovered a very significant gap between younger and older healthcare consumers around how they would like to use technology to engage with clinicians in their care delivery; the survey’s results also speak to broad areas for the improvement of telehealth-delivered patient care that provider leaders face going forward, following the widespread leveraging of telehealth in the past year-and-a-half.

The survey was conducted by the Waltham, Mass.-based Mobiquity, which describes itself as “a digital consultancy that designs and delivers innovative digital products and services for the world's leading brands.” Its title is “Exploring the Impact of Digital Tools in Healthcare Management and Patient Loyalty.” As the webpage introducing the survey notes, “The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant shifts in the way everyday tasks are accomplished, with a heavy shift toward contactless, digital engagement. But how does this translate to healthcare? We set out to answer this questions in our latest research, ‘Exploring the Impact of Digital Tools in Healthcare Management and Patient Loyalty.’

And as the organization’s website explains, “We reached out to consumers across the US to see how they are utilizing digital technology to manage their health and explore what they’d like to see in the future. What we found is that while all age groups are engaging with technology in the healthcare space, there is a divide in how people of different ages want to leverage virtual means. Check out our research to learn more.” The website notes that “The survey explores how patients are responding to the increase in digital tools as healthcare providers continue to promote telemedicine and wearables to ensure safety and convenience as the pandemic subsides. Mobiquity surveyed 994 consumers in the U.S. to gain insight into how they are using these technologies to manage their health as well as what additional advancements they would like to see in the future as digital habits continue.”

And what did the surveyors find? “According to Mobiquity’s findings, there is a significant divide between how patients across different age groups leverage technology to monitor and manage their health. It comes as no surprise that the majority of patients have increased usage of telemedicine options in the last year, but 80% of older patients (56+) still prefer more face-to-face interaction with providers. On the other hand, 54% of those 25-40 would like to continue using telemedicine as much as possible even as in-person restrictions continue to be lifted.”

Further, Mobiquity noted that, “Beyond aiding with communication, technology use plays a significant role in patient loyalty. If a healthcare provider offered telemedicine options, over half of respondents aged 18-40 would be more likely to keep annual visits and seek preventive care versus 29% of patients 56+. On top of that, 50% of patients 25-40 stated that once they have gone through the process of setting up their provider’s mobile app, they are less likely to switch compared to only 29% of those 56 and older. Additionally, 44% of those aged 25-40 would switch doctors to get a better digital experience while only 12% of those 56+ would do the same.”

Meanwhile, certain findings applied across age groups, as follows:

> Of those surveyed, 95 percent indicated that it is important that their healthcare provider makes it easy for them to ask questions and get responses from a physician or nurse.

>   If the overall experience is easier, 78 percentof patients are more likely to seek medical treatment.

>   Only 67 percent expressed satisfaction with telehealth, indicating there is plenty of room for improvement.

“In the last 18 months, healthcare professionals had to rapidly transform their digital offerings to provide care to patients while also ensuring both parties’ health and safety,” said Teun Schutte, managing consultant, digital strategy at Mobiquity, in a statement. “Across all industries, we’ve found that these digital habits are not going away. When it comes to healthcare and life sciences, our report confirmed that catering to these new tech-focused preferences is necessary to build strong and trusted relationships with patients. By providing a variety of care options to all generations, providers can use these digital tools to optimize care and build long-standing relationships with patients.”

Additional findings from the report include the following:

>   Data security is a top concern – 64 percent of patients would be more likely to use a digital health tool or platform if I had confidence that it kept my data secure.

>   Communication is key to building trust – 75 percent of patients believe that the better their healthcare providers are at staying in touch with them, the more trust patients have in doctors’ management of their health.

>   Younger generations are more interested in tech-managed health options – 68 percent of those 18-40 would consider utilizing a digital tool (such as a mobile app, smart watch, or voice-prompted assistant) to manage their health compared to 37 percent of those aged 56 and older.

>   When managing health conditions with digital tools, there is room for improvement - When it comes to managing and monitoring a health condition only 52 percent of patients were satisfied with hands-free devices or voice assistants like Alexa, 64 percent were satisfied with mobile apps and 70 percent were satisfied with smart watches.

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