Let’s Debunk a Few Myths about Seniors and Technology.

There are many misconceptions about seniors and technology. Sure, they may have grown up in a time without smartphones, but the idea that seniors aren’t embracing technology is far from true.

According to a recent study, 60% of seniors are regularly using computers and 40% own smartphones. One-third of seniors surveyed said that they own tablets and use social media. The number of seniors using technology on a regular basis has been growing tremendously over the years, and it’s only expected to keep rising as the population ages. Marketing to seniors no longer means sticking to traditional methods, and it’s time for healthcare marketers to refine their strategies when targeting this demographic. A quote from Bill Novelli, found in an article on Information Week, helps explain the shift in technology use among seniors:

“Among the people already in their elderly years, they’re not technology experts because they didn’t grow up with it,” said Bill Novelli, a professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. “But as boomers age, they’re much more facile with technology.”

They may not have been raised with it, but there’s a growing number of senior citizens embracing the advances in digital healthcare. More than ever before, seniors are using digital tools like health apps and appointments schedulers, and they’re searching for health information online. There’s an expectation that they can manage certain aspects of their healthcare online, and healthcare marketers who choose to overlook this fact will inadvertently push seniors towards their digitally accommodating competitors.

The Aging Population

The population of seniors in North America is staggering. As of 2016, seniors made up 17% of the population in Canada and 15% in the US. This number is only expected to rise as the boomer generation ages, and the aging population is becoming increasingly more experienced with technology. Senior patients tend to use the healthcare system more frequently than other demographics, and they often have complicated health conditions that require them to invest more in their healthcare. But unlike previous generations of seniors, the current aging population is much more experienced with technology and actively wants to use it to access health-related information. They’re looking online to connect with physicians, seek out answers, schedule appointments and manage their healthcare from their devices.

What Are Seniors Searching For?

A recent survey done by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that seniors are more technologically savvy than ever before, and they’re actively seeking out healthcare information online. When it comes to adults between the ages of 50 to 64, 71% seek out healthcare information online and 60% search for healthcare information on Facebook. For those 65 and older, 58% seek out healthcare information online and 43% search for healthcare information on Facebook.

Alongside these statistics is a study done by Accenture Research that revealed what information seniors wanted to access online.

  • 83% of seniors believe they should have complete access to their electronic health records
  • Only 28% percent actually have complete access to their health records
  • 68% of seniors say it is “somewhat” or “very important” to request prescription refills electronically
  • 62% of seniors believe it is “somewhat” or “very important” to book appointments online
  • 53% of seniors say it is “somewhat important” or “very important” to email with providers

Despite what we may have previously thought, the aging population is evolving with the advances in digital healthcare. Accessing, managing and tracking your healthcare information online is in high demand, and healthcare businesses will need to expand their digital tactics if they hope to continue attracting senior patients.

What Can You Do to Engage with Seniors?

  1. Make it accessible. Let your senior patients know about the information they can access online, whether it’s scheduling appointments, doctor’s notes, prescription refills, or accessing electronic health records.
  2. Find out what they want to see. Ask your senior patients about the information they want to access. What content do they want to see? What healthcare needs do they want to have addressed electronically? What information do they find valuable? Find out exactly what it is your patients are looking for, and incorporate their suggestions into your digital marketing strategy.
  3. Utilize social media. Seniors are the fastest growing users of social media, especially on Facebook and Twitter. Placing your content on the social media platforms they prefer to use will allow them to discover your brand and engage with your business.
  4. Be respectful. While healthcare technology may offer a host of benefits and conveniences, not all patients will want to make the transition. Don’t focus on converting all of your senior patients to using digital health tools if they choose not to do so. Above all else, patients want to feel that they’re in control of their healthcare decisions.

About Us

Whitehead Agency Group is a leading healthcare marketing agency with over 25 years of specialized health and wellness experience. Start profiting from the new age of consumer-driven healthcare with marketing that clicks. Contact us today at (416) 365-6884 or by emailing us at hello@waginc.ca to arrange a complimentary, no-obligation review of your current local SEO, digital and overall marketing strategy.