Friday, 29 March 2019 11:07

Older Australians embracing digital tech: report

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Ageing Australian baby boomers and seniors are embracing digital technology such as wearables, mobile apps and online health management tools, according to a newly released research report.

According to the report from professional services firm Accenture, nearly half of Australians aged 65 and older are embracing digital technology, and the vast majority (95%) of the seniors would also be willing to share health information from a wearable or app with their doctor.

Accenture’s report — Australian Seniors Ride Digital Wave — highlights that older Australians would use even more digital services.  For example, an AI doctor for emergency advice (cited by 51%) if it was available.

The data also shows that there has been a steady adoption growth in seniors using health apps, with usage increasing five-fold from 2.9% in 2014 to 15.5% in 2018.

Accenture Australia’s health innovation principal director, Ian Manovel, who is presenting the research findings at the Aged Care Innovation Roundtable in Sydney today, said: “As the Australian population ages and care models evolve, private providers must make strategic digital health investments to meet demand and remain competitive”.

“It is not just a matter of consumer demand, either. In the context of Australia’s Royal Commission into quality and safety in care facilities, it should be remembered that aged citizens have a fundamental right to choose how they receive care. They are expressing a desire for more digital services,” Manovel said.

Dr Tina Campbell, managing director, Healthily, said senior Australians are riding the digital health wave.

“As specialists in health literacy and patient education, Healthily knows that empowering consumers, their families and carers with the confidence, knowledge and skills to manage their health and wellbeing to the best of their ability is crucial to improving health outcomes and quality of life.

“Progressive aged care providers are also coming to understand innovative ways in which technology can be used to support their workforce to improve safety and consumer centred care. We look forward to continuing to work with the aged care sector to deliver digital health literacy solutions that connect seniors with the right services, support and information needed to take a more active and informed role in their care," Dr Campbell said.  

Terry Reece, head of clinical solutions, ANZ at Elsevier, said:  “The introduction of the Aged Care Quality Standards is timely, given that older Australians are expecting providers to innovate using technologies such as AI and digital health management, to improve the quality of care they receive”.

Reece said that in order for these new standards to be met, aged care providers need to “seriously consider improving the capabilities of their workforce and raising the level of governance over their care standards”.

“By adopting evidence-based clinical decision support solutions and harnessing the power of digital health, providers can empower themselves with knowledge to provide higher quality care, more efficiently, across the board.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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