• 12Sep

    Study analyses baby boomers’ use of health information technologies

    A new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research investigates the use of and engagement with health technologies by people born between 1946 and 1964 in the USA.

    As they age, baby boomers (born 1946-1964) will have increasing medical needs and are likely to place large demand on health care resources. Consumer health technologies may help stem rising health care needs and costs by improving provider-to-patient communication, health monitoring, and information access and enabling self-care.

    The goals of the study were to (1) examine what technologies baby boomers are ready to use for health purposes, (2) investigate barriers to baby boomers’ use of technology for health purposes, and (3) understand whether readiness for and barriers to baby boomers’ use of consumer health technologies differ from those of other younger and older consumers.

    Data from 469 respondents (response rate 15.63%) were analysed, including 258 baby boomers (aged 46-64 years), 72 younger (aged 18-45 years), and 139 older (age >64 years) participants. Baby boomers were found to be similar to the younger age group, but significantly more likely than the older age group to be ready to use 5 technologies for health purposes: health information websites, email, automated call centres, medical video conferencing, and texting.

    Baby boomers were less ready than the younger age group to adopt podcasts, kiosks, smartphones, blogs, and wikis for health care purposes. However, baby boomers were more likely than older adults to use smartphones and podcasts for health care purposes.

    In examining the top barriers to use, motivation-based barriers stood out, especially enjoyment, which was identified as a problem by more than 14.9% of respondents for every technology in this cluster. In addition to enjoyment, appropriateness and security were among the top motivation-based barriers checked for kiosks, blogs, and wikis.

    The most notable knowledge-based barrier was “don’t know how to use”. 19.0% to 22.8% of respondents checked this barrier for every technology in this cluster except kiosks. In addition, 15.8% of respondents indicated that they did not know what a podcast was and what a wiki was. However, specific adoption barriers also varied depending on the type of technology.

    The paper concludes that familiarity with a technology is an important factor in determining subsequent adoption of that and related technologies. Familiarity with the core technology reduces the perceived risk of adopting the specific application of the technology.

    The full paper can be read here