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The next eHealth wave for silver surfers: Health Management

Explore the trend of digital-savvy seniors 65 and over using ehealth to manage their health over their healthcare costs.


Contrary to the popular belief that only younger generations are technology adopters, the aging population is riding the ehealth wave.

According to Accenture research, not only do an overwhelming number (82 percent) of silver surfers feel an inherent motivation to actively manage their general health, 36 percent think new technology has made it easier, and 61 percent want new technology to do this.

In addition, most (62 percent) silver surfers say technology is important for managing their health because it helps them to improve their health or understand conditions or medications. Yet only 7 percent point to cost savings.

This preference is one reason silver surfers are a desirable consumer segment among seniors for Medicare plans. It also suggests health plans serving Medicare consumers must rethink how they integrate digital into care planning for seniors, because one-size-fits-all strategies are not sufficient.



The strong digital engagement trend among Medicare consumers that Accenture has previously reported continues.

Today, the vast majority (81 percent) of people 65 and over in the United States say technology is important to their everyday lives. What’s more, 68 percent of them consider technology to be “very important” or “somewhat important” to managing their health.

This is according to the Accenture 2014 Patient Engagement Survey of more than 10,000 consumers in the United States and nine other countries, including about 350 US seniors.




There is a striking correlation between silver surfers’ use of technology in health management and the likelihood that they will perform health management activities. Higher overall health management activity can translate into healthier behaviors, and sometimes, healthier people.

For example, of the seniors who consider technology to be “very important” in health management, 75 percent monitored their weight, 50 percent monitored their cholesterol and 41 percent tracked their physical activity in the past year. These rates are much higher than those of seniors who say they see no value in using technology to manage their health.

Silver surfers also expect technology will play an even bigger role in their health in the future. Many are even willing to pay for technology tools that provide insights into their health. Consider that the number of older seniors who rely on online health information resources is expected to increase by over 10 percent in the next five years.


Patterns of Electronic Medical Record Use

Seniors are more likely to use EMRs to access health outcomes data rather than cost data, with this trend even stronger among those 65 and older.



By understanding silver surfers’ unique eHealth habits and preferences, health plans can identify digital opportunities to encourage healthy activities—and healthy outcomes. Some health plans are already introducing digital health tools, including wellness portals and activity tracker programs designed for digital-savvy seniors.

Such digital approaches are important for health plans participating in accountable care organization models that must build care plans to generate the right outcomes to protect against the downside risks of quality or value-based payment models.

EHealth is poised to help increase engagement opportunities and support complex care coordination of the Medicare population. It is a complement, not a substitute, for the human touch in healthcare—at a time in people’s lives when they often need it the most.


Importance of eHealth to Health Management

Silver surfers are more likely to perform health management activities than peers who think technology is “not at all important” to health management.


According to the Accenture 2014 Patient Engagement Survey, silver surfers want to use ehealth for health management—a preference that makes them a desirable group for Medicare plans.