The world population is aging, and their healthcare requirements are constantly expanding, which raises the need for the proper management and prevention of chronic conditions. Seniors contribute significantly to healthcare costs, causing them to face financial challenges in terms of medications and healthcare access.
As healthcare systems worldwide are coping with the increasing aging population, many are turning to digital healthcare technology to improve elderly care. Digital health programs offer fully automated and scalable, cost-effective options to manage chronic conditions among older adults.
While digital health mainly focused on millennials and other digitally savvy generations, the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the rise of digital health services, such as telehealth, e-prescriptions, and wearable devices.
Healthcare providers are also embracing the digital healthcare evolution through healthcare management platforms. For example, private practitioners have clinic management software, while dental professionals have digital orthodontics for sending digital cases.
With the growing adoption of digital health, it’s essential to encourage the aging population to take advantage of digital tools to improve care delivery and their quality of life. In this article, we’ll discuss how to engage older adults in digital healthcare technology.
Promote technology awareness
Older adults are unaware of the several benefits of digital health interventions in their everyday lives. In this case, healthcare providers can educate them and bring awareness about existing digital interventions.
Seniors can attend a medical consultation without asking a family member to drive them to the hospital or clinic or worrying about the transportation to reach the healthcare facility. Inform them there’s no need to leave the comfort of their home, and they can freely contact you anytime and anywhere through their devices.
Teach them about the capabilities of telehealth platforms in terms of monitoring health statuses, such as temperature, blood pressure, heartbeat, and providing treatment plans and timely responses. Since they lack access to this information, it’s important to establish a patient-doctor relationship to introduce the benefits of telehealth. One example is the home-based rehabilitation technologies for patients who need after-care services.
Technologies are also available to help older adults in navigating digital health care. These include virtual care services, technology-based consultation services, and a portal that provides reliable data about senior health and the social aspects of aging.
Form a supportive group
Friends and family members play a critical role in maintaining seniors’ health. They serve as strong influencers, particularly the younger ones, for seniors to embrace new technologies.
As their support, seniors can learn and adapt new behaviors through observation while gaining confidence in using technology. Providers and caregivers can also participate in establishing a strong support network. At the same time, they also play an integral role in preserving their health.
Identify their concerns on digital health
Patients value their physician’s advice. Study shows healthcare providers who provide digital healthcare recommendations are likely to increase the adoption rate among older adults.
Explain to them that the first few sessions of telehealth might feel awkward, but they will eventually feel at ease because of repeated use. Still, it’s important to give them time to explain their fears and concerns about using a telehealth service and then address each of them in a way they will easily understand.
Check if you can eliminate their doubts and insecurities about technology. Try building trust by explaining the effect of telehealth on people’s lives and overall health. Tell them how it provides flexibility and freedom, reduces travel time and costs, and the ability to play an active role in managing their health.
Ask a senior patient if they own any digital device and a reliable internet connection. Those with complete tools can book a telehealth appointment. To help them transition from in-person consultations to virtual visits, ask them to schedule an appointment with you so you can guide them from downloading the application to navigate all its features and settings. You can also explain the expectations of using a telehealth app and provide instructions about its use. A great tip is to conduct a mock virtual consultation at the clinic.
Give time to navigate the application so that they can discover its capabilities and how easy it is to use. Assure them that the platform is no different from other communication channels, such as WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Messenger. Once they are familiar with its features, they will eventually feel empowered once they learn to use the app.
The world of technology is a challenging place to navigate, especially for seniors. While digital health care is just beginning, tech companies are already developing applications and devices to help seniors discover the wide-ranging abilities of digital health care. With the support of loved ones and healthcare providers, seniors will learn how to manage their health and enjoy better care.