A silver lining for mHealth use by a graying population

This past week I spoke with Arthur Polin, medical director for Florida Hospital North Pinellas, about how Adventist Health System is using mHealth to meeting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirements for Chronic Care Management--and the likelihood that an aging population will embrace using mobile tools for healthcare purposes. 

Most of that population probably didn't start using computers and mobile devices until very late in life, unlike today's digital natives who have been using the tools most of their lives. And in my conversation with Polin, I expected to hear that this presented a formidable challenge to the success of Adventist Health System's imitative. After all, research has shown that such tools can pose difficulties for older users.

However, the opposite appears to be in play.

Senior citizens, it seems, aren't as afraid of new technologies, at least for many of Polin's patients. He said a "huge" percentage of his CCM patients are online daily, using the Internet and smartphones to do more than keep in touch with grandkids or sharing photos with longtime friends; they are embracing the opportunity to use mHealth tools, he said.

One big reason, he believes, is that today's mHealth tools and systems are very intuitive and user-friendly. Patients whose doctors set up portals early on and encouraged patients to use the online option for making appointments are making a difference in how many patients use mobile healthcare.

While some tools and systems are likely to be a bit more complicated than others, a patient's attitude and willingness to learn and engage using mobile devices and systems is a key aspect to capitalizing on mHealth benefits and advantages.

It also helps when a physician, such as Polin, is just as eager to see the positives of mHealth. Faster and better patient care that saves providers money and time is the ultimate goal, but that won't be achieved without participation on both sides of the aisle.

The obstacles and hurdles are to be expected, but it's how you approach and clear those hurdles that get you to the destination faster and easier.- Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)