What Senior Patients Want from EHRs: Surprising Survey Findings


A new study has surprising findings about how seniors feel about healthcare and technology.

Seniors are nervous about the future of their healthcare, but they see technology, access, and better communication from their providers as key to improving their health, a new study suggests.

The national research study, based on a February 2018 survey of more than 1,000 adults age 55 and older, offers healthcare executives new insight into senior patients’ needs and preferences, 80% of whom suffer from at least one chronic illness, according to the National Council on Aging.

“Healthcare executives who aim to better serve seniors can learn from their desires and expectations. The study shows that seniors want a more consistent relationship with their healthcare providers and want to feel more empowered in taking charge of their own health,” says John Kao, CEO of Alignment Healthcare, a managed healthcare services company serving seniors with Medicare Advantage, which conducted the study. “Rather than only seeing their providers when there is a problem, seniors want ongoing communication with their care team to keep them healthy and possibly prevent problems from arising. Any tech innovations that will allow seniors to interact more with their clinical team and help them with everyday health management would be welcomed.”

The study shows: Seniors believe technology will transform healthcare and want tech-enabled services to better manage their own health. Eighty percent of respondents said technology would improve healthcare in the next five years by improving diagnosis, curing disease and helping doctors predict diseases and conditions before they happen.

Seniors want more EHR engagement

One of the key areas in which seniors cited a desire for more technology use was in electronic record keeping and sharing of all medical records: 24% of consumers over the age of 70 years showed the most interest in receiving notifications if their monitored vitals changed drastically. Comprehensive EHRs would facilitate patient monitoring.

“While it is true that seniors have lower rates of technology adoption, they are using technology at higher rates than before,” according to Kao. “The data show they recognize technology’s ability to improve various aspects of their lives even though they may not be as comfortable with it. The appetite is there. This underscores why consumer-facing tech needs to be easy to learn and use.” 

The survey points to several items on seniors’ technology wish list to help improve their healthcare delivery:

  • The ability to see a doctor on demand (anywhere/anytime) via web-enabled devices.
  • Electronic record keeping.
  • Monitoring technology that can look at one’s vitals in real time or even predict a negative outcome and intervene before it occurs.
  • The ability to communicate and send images to one’s doctor via email.

“Based on our study’s results, technology applications should be consumer-centric, easy to use, and coupled with a care model that promotes more face-to-face interaction with healthcare providers,” says Kao. “We believe technology is best applied when it facilitates providing care to those who need it most when they need it most.”

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