Three misconceptions about digital adoption
When it comes to digital adoption and usage, millennials are known for being the most prominent adopters. However, digital tools such as mobile applications (apps) are used to assist an array of groups, such as young children or people living in remote communities.
It’s worth taking a closer look at some of the common misconceptions about the types of people who use digital tools and systems in healthcare, and who else in Australia is benefitting from them.
Misconception #1: Digital is only for Millennials
A common misconception is that digital tools, platforms and channels are mainly used by millennials. According to Pew Research, there’s been a big growth in tech adoption in older generations — in particular, baby boomers and Gen Xers.
Dubbed ‘silver surfers’, people over the age of 65 are using digital technology in their daily lives. According to a study by Accenture, seniors use digital health tools in the same way that younger people would and adoption is only increasing with time.
From 2011 to 2018, baby boomers' smartphone ownership went from 25% to 67%. Furthermore, 57% now use social media and 52% own a tablet computer. The reality is that while younger generations find it easier to embrace digital technologies, they are not the only generation using technology for their everyday lives or in healthcare.
Misconception #2: Digital services are less accessible to patients with complex health needs
Another misconception is that digital services are less accessible to people living with disabilities (defined as long-standing illness or impairment). However, the digital usage gap between disabled and non-disabled people is narrowing.
Awareness and use of digital tools are on the rise for many people living with life-long conditions, with evidence that it is enabling better health outcomes. A multiple sclerosis (MS) society-commissioned report outlines the success of technology being used for better MS health outcomes.
The report found technology made an improvement in the following areas:
- Better patient control over their care
- Accessible and coordinated care
- Improved access to the right treatments in a timely way
- More data to improve patient needs.
Technology is proving to be a powerful tool to empower patients living with long-term conditions.
Misconception #3: Implementing digital solutions means starting from scratch
Perhaps one of the biggest factors hindering the health industry’s adoption of digital tools is the misconception that it means starting from scratch. The reality is that strategically implementing digital tools does not mean starting from square one and can often be done with limited resources.
For health practices, there are several small steps that can help your business become more efficient and improve the patient experience. These could include:
- Creating a user-friendly website with an online booking functionality
- Making information easily accessible on all online platforms (e.g. website, social media, etc.)
- Consistently publishing valuable, engaging and relevant content
- Using text reminders for appointments.
These steps all come together with the goal to improve the user experience. With professional guidance, you can take small steps to leverage the digital solutions available.
Reality check: Digital tools benefit everyone
As the healthcare industry moves rapidly towards a more digitised future, what remains clear is that digital tools have the power to help everyone. The future of Australian healthcare puts people first and gives patients more control, transparency and choice. Below are some examples of how digital tools benefit a diverse range of people.
Children using apps to adopt a better diet or improve mental health
According to the World Health Organisation, there are over 41 million children worldwide under the age of five that are overweight or obese. To combat this, we’ve seen the proliferation of mobile apps to improve diet, physical activity and health in children.
Another example involving children is the use of gamification to improve mental health, such as in the treatment of anxiety in children. A study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that certain games have the potential to extend the reach and benefits of online programs to children who may not have had access otherwise. The format also makes the lessons more engaging.
Benefits to people living in remote communities
The Australian Digital Health Agency is working with the Northern Territory Government to improve health services in remote Australia with telehealth services. Between 2014 and 2015, participants dramatically reduced travel for appointments by utilising telehealth tools instead.
The improvements had an estimated saving for the project participants of around $1.189 million. This serves as an example of how rural Australian communities are open to embracing digital solutions in healthcare. This is supported by a quote from The Rural Doctors Association of Australia:
"There is a long history of (rural and remote people) embracing alternative models and using available technologies to provide those services lacking in their communities."
Government initiatives like this one shine a light on the power of digital tools and technological developments to transcend barriers in healthcare.
Embracing digital solutions in healthcare
Tadashi are specialists in innovative digital solutions in healthcare. Our knowledge of the unique challenges facing healthcare practices has us well-placed to find the right solution for any business.
To learn more about our strategy, technology and solution-based capabilities, contact us.