Seniors adopt patient portals at same rate as younger patients, analysis finds

Healthcare providers might assume older patients avoid new technology solutions designed to help them communicate with clinicians, but baby boomers are turning that assumption around, according to an athenaInsight blog post.

A growing number of seniors today are baby boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964, Seth Emont, PhD, an independent research consultant who studies patient portals told athenaInsight. The oldest cohort of this generation were in their 30s when personal computers became mainstream in the 1980s, meaning they have a fair amount of experience with technology.

"It makes me think organizations should focus on their marketing," Dr. Emont told athenaInsight. "If you tell seniors how portals can help them to improve their own care, they'll probably give them a try."

Here are four insights into how different generations use patient portals, according to a 2015 analysis of patients on athenahealth's network.

1. Portal use is highest among patients in their 30s, who typically belong to the millennial generation. Millennials boast 35 percent adoption, compared to roughly 30 percent adoption across the board.

2. Patients in their early 60s, considered baby boomers, adopt patient portals at roughly the same rate as patients overall.

3. The adoption rate for portals declines slightly beginning at age 65. However, almost 20 percent of patients at age 75 still sign up for the technology.

4. One fifth of seniors qualify as what athenahealth calls "super-users," or those who log into their patient portal roughly 40 times per year.

To access athenaInsight's blog post, click here.

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