News Feature | March 18, 2016

Health Engagement Lost In Generation Gap?

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

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Between generations, views of health engagement can be drastically different finds a Medscape/WebMD report.

Generational differences may be ruining the effectiveness of healthcare technology according to a study conducted by Medscape and WebMD. According to their conclusions:

  • Silent Generation (born before 1942) would rather the provider direct them on what steps to take
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1943 and 1960) prefer healthcare professionals engage with them
  • Gen Xers (born between 1961 and 1981) are curious and seek to be educated in their care
  • Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) want providers to connect with them and build personal relationships

Fierce Mobile Healthcare reports 2,600 patients or caregivers and 792 doctors (15 percent primary care physicians; 85 percent specialty care providers) were surveyed for the study.

Of the Silent Generation, approximately 15 percent will sport wearables (similar to other generations). A summary of the study notes they will also register for portals if recommended by their physician, but their use beyond lab data review is limited. This generation is likely to rely on personal doctors to provide medical care direction and are prepared to seek information from and defer to their physician.

Baby Boomers best respond most to a physician’s verbal instruction, followed by written and then internet communication and nearly 20 percent use wearables. Generally, physicians do not recommend portals to this group.

Nearly 20 percent of Gen Xers use wearables, but doctors do not recommend portals to this generation. However, when Generation X patients do use portals, they use for lab results (77 percent), communication with their healthcare provider & schedule (41 percent) and medication refills (37 percent).

Millennials are known for using and appreciating technology. They usually have a positive personal relationship with their physician and seek information from multiple sources. This generation differs because they are less comfortable asking questions and discussing concerns. Doctors can help this by recommending reliable resources. Nearly 20 percent use wearables and doctors recommend the portal less often than other generational groups.