It’s long been assumed that seniors are reluctant to embrace new technology. This was our perception before we went out and surveyed 887 patients over the age of 65. We had a hypothesis: seniors didn’t engage with technology often. We thought they preferred getting a phone call over a SMS, and a letter over an email.

For the Love of Healthcare (our closed Facebook group for healthcare professionals) did too. We put the question to our members… all healthcare professionals. 81% of FLH members who answered the poll said they thought phone call was the preferred channel of communication for over 65s. 10% said letters, 7% SMS and 2% email. What we discovered surprised all of us.

What Over 65s Actually Think About Technology

SMS is the preferred channel for communication

 

Contrary to popular belief, over 65s choose SMS (52%) as their preferred channel for communication across the board. Only 28% of over 65s prefer to be contacted by phone, 19% email and 11% letters.

Seniors also say SMS (44%) is the best suited channel for communication about follow-up appointments and test results. Less popular methods were by phone (31%) and by email (25%). Less than 1% prefer letters.



Online bookings are important

 

Over 65s are strongly in favour of online bookings. 91% say that a medical centre having an online booking system is important to them, and more than half report that this feature is extremely important to improving the patient experience.



Ongoing education is appreciated

 

When we asked over 65s if they were happy to receive information about clinical services relevant to them at the time they made a booking, 88% said they would. When asked how often they’d like to receive this type of information, most (3 in 5) said they would prefer to receive these type of health alerts 2-3 times a year.



Interestingly, this is about the same amount of times the average over 65 year old visits the doctor in any given year, with 72% of seniors saying they visit their doctor 4 times or less a year. This highlights the opportunity for medical centres to promote additional health services at the time patients are making a booking or confirming an upcoming appointment.

Convenience is key

 

Although we often associate millennials with adopting technology, you may be surprised to learn that for many over 65s, convenient technology is considered an essential part of a good medical centre.

For example, 90% of over 65s believe SMS appointment reminders are important for a good patient experience. And 86% would order repeat prescriptions online if they had the opportunity.



Convenience also impacts how seniors view the check-in experience. While over 65s don’t overwhelmingly support changes in this area, they’re more open-minded than some might assume. 

For instance, 52% of survey respondents reported that they would download an app displaying their estimated wait time. And, 1 in 3 said they would actually prefer to check-in with a mobile app or a touchscreen kiosk — rather than going to the front desk.



Conclusion

 

While seniors have a reputation for being slow to adopt new technology, it appears they are more comfortable grappling computers, phones and apps than we at times give them credit. Perhaps, this is because their health means a lot to them and that means engaging with technology is a given.

Maybe. Or maybe at times we’re just overwhelmed by the prospect that seniors too are making online appointments, confirming SMS reminders and engaging with check-in kiosks.

After all, they don’t seem to have a problem doing self-check-in at the airport. Nor do they struggle to send a text message or make a purchase on Amazon. Sure, there’s the odd technophobe, but it appears they are the exception to the rule.

Seniors do embrace technology.

 

*Sources: Patient Survey 2018, HotDoc and Patient Survey 2017, HotDoc