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How medicare plans can attract and engage the aging population through digital channels
With thousands of people turning 65 daily in the United States over the next two decades, health plans know they cannot ignore the aging population. What many do not know is just how digitally savvy the nation’s senior healthcare consumers are—or how important it is becoming to use ehealth to attract and engage them.
Digitally savvy in their everyday lives, seniors are also going digital when it comes to healthcare. For one, many are searching online for health information. In fact, this is the only area where seniors’ Internet use surpasses that of 18 to 29 year olds.1 In addition, recent Accenture research shows that 56 percent of Medicare consumers visited their health plan’s website at least once in the past 12 months.
Silver surfers are riding the ehealth wave. Medicare plans must do the same. It is no longer a question of if. It is a question of how—and when.
Download the PDF to learn surprising statistics about seniors’ use of digital channels
1 Pew Internet & American Life Project, Older Adults and Internet Use, Kathryn Zickuhr, Mary Madden, June 6, 2012, accessed 10/7/13, http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Older-adults-and-internet-use/Summary-of-findings.aspx
The digital revolution is not just for the young. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Internet use rates tripled among seniors (65 and over) and doubled among 50 to 64 year olds between 2000 and 2012. The greatest growth in Internet use among all age groups during this period was among seniors 65 and over, ushering in the era of the silver surfer. 2
Digital is clearly becoming part of the fabric of seniors’ lives. Accenture research reports that Medicare consumers are frequently (at least once daily) online. Ninety-one percent are using email frequently and 73 percent frequently search the Internet. Nearly one-third frequently login to Facebook or other social media sites.
2 Pew Internet & American Life Project, Older Adults and Internet Use, Kathryn Zickuhr, Mary Madden, June 6, 2012, accessed 10/7/13, http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Older-adults-and-internet-use/Summary-of-findings.aspx
Seniors want to do more than access general healthcare information online. They want online access to their personal health information, and many want to research and evaluate health insurance options, accessing their information once enrolled. The Accenture Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement of more than 9,000 adult consumers in nine countries, including about 200 US seniors, reveals that:
Most (67 percent) Americans 65 and older say that accessing their medical information online is very or somewhat important.
83 percent of US seniors think that they should have full access to their electronic health records—only 28 percent actually do today.
eHealth options are also influencing how seniors want to connect with their healthcare team. Sixty-eight percent of seniors say it is somewhat or very important to request prescription refills electronically, and nearly half (46 percent) can do so today.
In addition, according to the Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement, 62 percent of seniors believe it is somewhat or very important to be able to book appointments online. Over half (53 percent) say it is somewhat important or very important to email with providers. Considering these findings, should Medicare plans play a role in helping facilitate digital connections between members and providers?
The digital divide between seniors and the rest of the population is disappearing. Not only are today’s Medicare consumers digitally savvy, 55 to 64 year olds aging into Medicare have even higher digital use rates, and are poised to drive adoption as they age in.
To serve the aging population—today and into tomorrow—Medicare plans must pursue digital channels to influence buying behavior, engagement and satisfaction:
Buying behavior. Digital is non-negotiable when it comes to customer preference and differentiation among health plans. Price, value and brand are also becoming increasingly important for acquisition.
Engagement. Digital dialogue with seniors can mean better outcomes and healthier living. Smart digital health management also helps plans reduce medical costs and close the customer experience gap, improving retention.
Satisfaction. Digital can improve healthcare quality with a more seamless, collaborative health ecosystem. It can also help plans to create simplified, accessible customer experiences that people share via social networks.
November 15, 2013
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