Similarly, internet use among this population has soared. Only 14% of senior citizens used the internet in 2000, but that number soared to at least 67% by 2017. Furthermore, the usage statistics pattern those of geriatric smartphone owners, with the 65-69-year-old-age groups being the most robust internet user, followed by those in the 70-74-age group; usage drops off after that point. However, recruiting technology to solve medication management problems may require insight that transcends the gadget and the application.
“These hurdles are not just technological—they’re life hurdles,” says Maureen Williams, marketing solutions manager, consumer and physician experience for Meditech. For Williams, a healthcare technology industry professional who also cares for her aging mother, the reality hits home. “Any technology that gets deployed needs to be easy-to-incorporate into that patient’s daily life.”
Trending: Chains Shifting Focus for 2020
For patients who might benefit from technological interventions, Williams recommends that healthcare professionals work with patients to ensure the technology is something the patient finds easy-to-use, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-incorporate into their daily life. It is also crucial that the patient finds the technology both meaningful and useful enough to continue using it.
“If an alarm is going off every 2 minutes, the patient is just going to cut it off,” Williams cautions, referencing a phenomenon known as alert fatigue.
In addition to addressing the patient’s ability to manage medications, Williams says that providers frequently encounter challenges helping patients address costs. Meditech has a patient portal that facilitates real-time communication between all interested parties. Both printable and downloadable, patients can access the list to share with healthcare providers and family members.
However, not all platforms offer the same features. Williams’ mother must phone in refill requests for certain prescriptions, and subsequently, call the pharmacy to ensure the script went through. For patients who have a portal to refill prescriptions (as well as their care providers that leverage real-time benefit check and Electronic Prior Authorization), the refill process is much more efficient and smoother.
Kim-Paglingayen says that, while technology offers an opportunity to help seniors better manage their medications, it may not be a suitable choice for every member of the golden-years community.
Read More: The Future of Pharmacy Automation
“There are tech-savvy elders who have a list of their medications and dosages in their smartphone ‘note’ section,” says Kim-Paglingayen. “But most elders I know would rather have a handwritten list in their wallet or note pad that they bring along with them to the hospital or the clinic.”
In cases where a patient’s medication list is unclear, Kim-Paglingayen’s staff usually places a call to the patient’s family, pharmacy, or PCP for collateral information. However, there are times when phones come in handy, as she says some patients come in with pictures that they took of their pill bottle.
Ultimately, using technology depends on the patient’s reception, comfort level, and access to specific resources.
“Depending on the person, apps and online resources can be a great tool to keep patients engaged in their own health care,” says Triboletti.