Patient views of health engagement vary generation to generation

Patient engagement is viewed by each generation very differently, according to a new report. While Millennials want providers to connect with them and build personal relationships, the Silent Generation would rather the provider direct them on what steps to take; Baby Boomers prefer healthcare professionals engage with them, while Gen Xers are curious and seek to be educated in their care.

In addition, just under half of all healthcare consumers are turning to the Internet for information when it comes to managing personal health, and 20 percent report that a physician recommended a consumer health website, according to the study by Medscape/WebMD. Recommending and prescribing online resources can help healthcare professionals improve visit quality, the study noted.

About 2,600 patients or caregivers and 792 doctors (15 percent primary care physicians; 85 percent specialty care providers) were surveyed for the study. The results of the study were unveiled at the  Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society's annual conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

While Millennials are often seen as "digital natives" who embrace technology, the study found they were slight less likely to use tools like Fitbits, smartwatches and pedometers to track their health. Forty-four percent of Baby Boomers and 46 percent of Gen Xers said they use such tools, while 42 percent of Millennials do.

The younger generation is more likely to embrace wearables if given them for free by an employer, provider or payer. Increased use of such tools among the Silent Generation is tied to doctor recommendation. 

In October, California HealthCare Foundation issue brief addressed challenges of mHealth use for Baby Boomers, including low provider support and lack of validation of apps and tools. The hurdles are likely even bigger for the Silent Generation.

However, as tech-savvy Millennials grow older, they will have a major influence on the direction of healthcare delivery due to their preference for technological innovation and convenient care models.

For more information:
- here are the study slides
- read the study summary 

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