Accenture’s recent survey (consumer research) reveals that although  an escalating  number of tech-savvy seniors demand online options for their healthcare,  medical facilities can’t meet these demands.  According to the results, only 33% of healthcare providers offer the desired technology  such as:

  • Management tools including online appointment scheduling (62%)
  • Virtual physician consultations (42%)

Keep in mind that patient portals and these senior demands are part of Meaningful Use and the ACA, not frivolous requests.

Ignoring seniors would be a big mistake.  According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project,the number of seniors using the internet has tripled for the 65 and over crowd since the year 2000   and twice the number of use was seen for the 50-64 year old.

Tech-Savvy Seniors now manage their healthcare and it is increasing daily, with 75% of Medicare recipients accessing the internet each day.  They are at their computers reaching out for:

  • Social media sites (e.g. FaceBook, Pinterest, Instagram)- 33%
  • Computer searches-73%
  • Email-91%

Jill Dailey, managing director of payer strategy, Accenture Health points out:

“Just as seniors are turning to the Internet for banking, shopping, entertainment and communications, they also expect to handle certain aspects of their healthcare services online.”  “What this means for providers and health plans is that they’ll need to expand their digital options if they want to attract older patients and help them track and manage their care outside their doctor’s office.”

In the survey, a full 67% said that having access to their health data is important which contrasts to a mere 28% actually having access to their electronic health records. While 70% felt that it is important to have the ability to request medication refills electronically, only 46% have the opportunity to do so. In addition, 58% want to email their healthcare providers but only 15% are offered that chance.

“As the digitally engaged senior patient population continues to grow, healthcare systems need to consider the role the Internet can play in making healthcare more convenient for patients of all ages at every touch point,” Dailey added.

If your patients are using social media to get answers to their healthcare, shouldn’t it come from you?

Social media can be a perfect channel for providing information and engaging current patients as well as prospective patients in conversation and education.  While many health professionals are worried that being online may jeopardize HIPAA guidelines, educating about specific topics without answering questions about specific patients is a wonderful opportunity to bridge the gap between professional and patients.

Benefits Derived from Using Social Media

There are many advantages to using social media which include:

  • Setting you apart from your peers and making you stand out among your competition
  • Establishing a reputation of being the go-to professional for information
  • Strengthening your brand and your presence
  • Affords an opportunity to convey information and interaction in real-time, despite location
  • Increases patient compliance with medications and treatments due to a better understanding of it
  • Decreases readmissions or worsening of conditions due to patient compliance
  • Helping caregivers get the information they need to care for their charges
  • Providing support for those with chronic illnesses and their families

Social media is no longer a fad – it is rapidly becoming recognized as an essential tool for healthcare  and business uses, with a range from marketing and engagement to education and  from marketing and patient empowerment. and education. People seeking their information online and as professionals we need to take a greater responsibility in seeing that they get the correct information to make the correct health and wellness choices, not just advise that complies with the agenda of the site owner, be it a pharmaceutical company or an advertiser.

If it is not by you, then you will miss out on a great opportunity and you will be left in the dust as they stampede to those that will provide information and those they can trust!

Shouldn’t it be you?

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