If seniors’ desire for digital health surprises you, then you haven’t been paying attention. For years, silver surfers—people age 65 and over who use digital in their everyday lives—have been digitally-savvy consumers. Payers that have not recognized this are already behind the competition. What’s worse is that they are poised to fall even further behind thanks to a major shift in this critical consumer segment.

A wave of baby boomers aging into Medicare—digital boomers—is bringing a new level of digital intensity and a different mindset about aging. Payers need to be ready to turn traditional thinking about digital investment on its head by putting Medicare first when it comes to their digital strategies. Significant new enterprise growth awaits those that do.

Strong demand, short supply

Accenture research reveals that not only do digital boomers want digital health. They want it more than other consumers do. Among health technology users, Americans age 65 and over are now the most likely to have used electronic health records in the last year. They are the most active in managing their health. Digital boomers are also interested in the latest in digital health technologies like virtual health. Over half would use it for reminders, after-hours visits, daily support, classes and follow-up appointments (see Figure 1). They are also open to using an artificial intelligence doctor (see Figure 2).

Virtual health

Over half of digital boomers would use it for reminders, after-hours visits, daily support, classes and follow-up appointments.

AI Doctor

Digital boomers are also open to using an artificial intelligence doctor for some health interactions.

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Unfortunately, Medicare-aged consumers’ demand for these new digital health technologies is unmet. They are open to the possibilities, but the opportunities are simply not there. This supply-demand gap is a major risk for payers in an important market segment. And the Medicare population is only going to get more digital by the day. Literally.

Give them what they want

If payers don’t meet digital boomers’ demands for digital health, someone else will--likely hungry start-ups that already have their eyes on the market. To avoid this fate, traditional payers should abandon the orthodoxy that says the commercial business is the right place to start building digital capabilities.

In fact, the trifecta of growth, profitability and consumer demand make it a no-brainer for payers to digitally transform the Medicare business. Accenture analysis reveals that a health payer with 100,000 Medicare Advantage members can save as much as $2.5 million in total medical cost for every 1 percent of ambulatory office visits that are transitioned to virtual care. By going digital in Medicare first, health payers can do more than benefit this line of business. They can create a tested template to engage consumers of all ages.

Stop denying, start competing

Years of Accenture research chronicles the demand for digital among Medicare beneficiaries. Digital boomers will continue the trend. Here’s how to make the Medicare business a digital health priority:

Break down the walls

Make Medicare market innovation an enterprise-level conversation to bust through silos that separate this business from other business lines.

Start fast, scale right

Use the Medicare business as a platform to build and innovate solutions. Rely on human-centered experience design to test and tweak approaches.

Don’t go it alone

Seek out technology partners with a high ceiling for innovation and flexibility to scale across business segments. Build partnerships for the future.

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Seniors are not stuck in an analog world. As more baby boomers age into Medicare every day, payers that continue to think this do so at their own risk.

Dante Diamente


Tristan Sather

Business Strategy Manager – Accenture Strategy, Health​


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