Addressing Health Technology Barriers for Baby Boomers

Although baby boomers are expected to place a large burden on healthcare resources, consumer health technologies could help stem increasing needs and costs, according to a new study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Although baby boomers are expected to place a large burden on healthcare resources, consumer health technologies could help stem increasing needs and costs, according to a new study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The investigators, led by Cynthia LeRouge, PhD, considered using consumer health technology to improve provider-patient communication, health monitoring, and information access while enabling self-care.

“Fulfilling the promise of consumer health technologies to impact healthcare cost and enable healthcare consumers requires adoption by healthcare consumers,” the authors wrote. “Given their large numbers and growing healthcare needs, it is particularly important to understand what consumer health technologies baby boomers are ready to adopt.”

Of the 469 survey respondents studied, 258 were between the ages of 46 and 64 years, 72 were aged 18 to 45 years, and 139 were older than 64 years. Baby boomers were significantly more likely than the older age group to be ready to use 5 health technologies: health information websites, email, automated call centers, medical video conferencing, and texting. In fact, they were found to be similar to the younger age group in their readiness, according to the authors.

Baby boomers were less ready than the younger group to adopt podcasts, kiosks, smartphones, blogs, and wikis for healthcare purpose. However, they were still more likely than their older counterparts to use smartphones and podcasts.

The 2 barriers to consumer health technology adoption for baby boomers that the researchers studied were knowledge-based barriers and motivation-based barriers. The most fundamental of the former barriers is simply a lack of awareness, which partially explains new technology adoption differences among age cohorts, according to the authors. As for motivation-based barriers, they cited perceptions of usefulness and usability, efficiency of care delivery, cost, and improvement of life as examples.

“Baby boomers’ nuances regarding readiness to adopt and the barriers associated with the various forms of consumer health technology should be taken into account by those interested in promoting consumer health technologies use among baby boomers when developing applications, choosing technologies, preparing users for use, and in promotional tactics,” the authors concluded.