The Generation Gap In High-Tech Healthcare

Anja Reschke

Are you starting to feel your age? Don’t worry; we all eventually feel some new aches and pains as we get older. Age matters when it comes to our health, and as we get older, healthcare usually becomes a bigger focus.

But technology seems to be shifting that trend. Now younger people are becoming more engaged in their own healthcare, according to the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

Younger generations are taking ownership of their health

Today’s tech-savvy younger people are using wearable technology and a proactive attitude about health to shift the healthcare emphasis from treatment to prevention. Wellness programs that encourage fitness and responsible lifestyles are encouraging younger generations to monitor their own health more than the elderly population.

The SAP Radio show, IoT and Healthcare: Bringing IT Home, points out some key generational differences, and says younger generations:

  • Are eager to take responsibility for their own health.
  • Are more likely to pursue fitness routines and healthy lifestyles.
  • Want more equal relationships with healthcare providers.
  • Are keen to use the latest technology to support their health goals.

The desire to take responsibility for their own wellness makes this segment of the population open to innovative tools and programs that encourage better health. New apps and wearables like fitness trackers help users gain a better understanding of their own health. This knowledge can lead to behavioral changes that can reduce the incidence of obesity and chronic diseases.

The challenge of engaging the elderly

Technology-based preventive care is changing the way healthcare works for patients of all ages, but younger generations tend to adopt healthcare technology more quickly than their elderly counterparts. While younger people seem eager to take a proactive approach to health and technology, the elderly are much harder to engage. This is a challenge because in addition to the inevitable problems associated with aging, unhealthy lifestyles often lead to chronic diseases that can worsen with age. As a result, elderly patients take up the lion’s share of healthcare spending.

So what’s keeping older generations from adopting healthcare technology? There are several reasons according to the SAP Connected Care eBook:

  • Elderly patients tend to be less familiar with technology.
  • They may be unable or unwilling to learn about and adopt new technology.
  • Many elderly patients also suffer from declining manual dexterity, which can make it more difficult to deal with remote sensors or operate mobile devices.
  • Older generations may be more comfortable with the traditional patient-doctor healthcare model that does not involve new technology.

According to a recent Lenovo article, the traditional healthcare model also involves doctor-patient communications where the doctor has authority and the patient is obedient, which often doesn’t encourage patients to take a proactive interest in their own health.

Closing the generation gap with technology

Older generations are encouraged to consider the benefits of technology-based preventive care as well. Remote healthcare monitoring via the Internet of Things (IoT) can warn of health problems before they become critical, and caregivers can be kept up to date on patients’ conditions, allowing elderly patients to remain in their own homes longer.

Technology enables patients of all ages to take a proactive approach to their own wellness, but ultimately the outcome depends on each patient’s behavior. No matter how great a doctor is, a physician has no control over their patients’ habits such as smoking, exercise, and nutrition once they leave the doctor’s office. The ability for patients to use technology to take ownership of their health will shape the future of healthcare.

What are you doing to take responsibility for your own health? Maybe technology can help.

For an in-depth look at how technology is changing the face of healthcare, download the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

See how the digital era is affecting the business environment in the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

Discover the driving forces behind digital transformation in the SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.

About Anja Reschke

Anja Reschke is the Senior Director of Strategic Ecosystem Marketing at SAP. She is responsible for the development of joint strategic marketing plans, programs, and activities, with global strategic services and technology partners.