Technology has opened doors when it comes to the way people communicate with each other. In the medical field alone, the implementation of electronic medical records and e-messaging has helped improve the quality of care patients receive by allowing physicians the ability to instantaneously view patients’ medical records so they receive the best treatment possible.
While these technological doors have been opened to tech savvy individuals, it appears they remain closed for many, particularly the elderly. In 2012, a Pew Research Center study found that only a little more than half of adults ages 65 or older were Internet users. In 2014, that percentage rose to 59 percent. With so many senior citizens not taking advantage of online tools, it appears those who truly need the most medical attention may be missing out on these helpful advances in communication.
An article by the Journal of the American Medical Association titled “Effects of Computer-Based Clinical Decision Support Systems on Physician Performance and Patient Outcomes” stated that electronic medical records had the widest range of capabilities and the greatest potential for improving health care quality when compared to other methods of record-keeping. It also stated that among the most common forms of electronic tools used by the medical community were electronic health record documentation, prescription ordering, care management reminder systems, and messaging services. These instantaneous uses allow faster care that in turn means better quality for the people who need it. But while more people are becoming tech savvy, there are still large numbers out there who may never make use of these forms of digital communication.
Besides the technology gap many seniors face, there is also the problem of physical disabilities stopping them from taking advantage of online tools. According to the Pew study, about 40 percent of seniors indicated they had physical or other health conditions that made using and reading online content difficult. When the roughly 77 percent who reported they would need someone to help them use technology are also considered, it becomes clear that these technological conveniences are out of reach for many of the people who need them most.
Whether on the physician’s side or the patient’s, the use of electronic medical records and communication is going to continue to grow. It is incumbent on medical professionals — and the technologists they work with — to ensure that these tools can be used by as many patients as possible, no matter their age or infirmity.
Cloudticity designs, builds, manages and hosts applications for the health care field on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The company is the only Amazon partner that focuses exclusively on building HIPAA and HITECH solutions for AWS. The Cloudticity team is highly skilled at creating up-to-date technology that makes a tangible difference in people’s health and well-being. For more information on Cloudticity’s services, visit Cloudticity.com.