A couple of pieces of interesting research recently show that:
- Over 50s are less likely to have accessed online consultations in the UK during the first lockdown
- Older patients prefer digital health tools to in-person consultations
Research commissioned by Visiba Care looked at rates of online consultations including video consultations and online consultations such as chat and messaging between the first lockdown period last year. It found that overall, people under 30 were most likely to have accessed digital healthcare, but middle-aged and older adults used online consultations less often.
This finding is particularly interesting when taken in the context of other research published by Mobiquity and conducted by Censuswide, that suggests half of UK patients aged over 55 preferred digital health tools instead of in-person consultations, with the most preferred digital tools used by over 55s being remote monitoring (50%) and video examinations (50%).
Given there will always be circumstances where face-to-face consultations are necessary for physical examinations and procedures, this research brings home the importance of making sure that choosing the right form of engagement should be an active decision made by jointly clinician and patient.
Taken together, these studies challenge often made assumptions about older people’s preferences for face-to-face provision. It seems that they, like younger people, often prefer the ease of access that effective user-friendly digital provision can deliver. Perhaps differences in utilisation are more about what’s offered, than what’s preferred.