We have extremes in how we manage our healthcare. Some generations have little or no experience with technology. Sending an email can be a challenge for some. Other generations, especially the Millennials, are all about technology, especially if it’s mobile.
Put this in terms of years, and we can begin to see why.
On the one end of the spectrum, there are the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers, spanning the years 1900 to 1964. Familiarity with technology increases as you move closer to 1964, but it did not exist in their formative years. The next generations, Generation X to Millennials, span from 1965 to 2000. Comfort levels with technology increases significantly with these generations, as it began to take hold during the work years for Generation X and is all encompassing for Millennials.
There are gaping holes between the generations, in terms of technology use.
The healthcare industry is undergoing a technology revolution of sorts. Government incentive programs are in place for care providers to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) and offer patients their data in an electronic form. Providers, because of the incentives, are highly motivated to deliver data electronically to their patients.
Now, the questions are these:
- How will the Traditionalists respond to: “Your lab results will be available on our portal”?
- How will Baby Boomers deal with glucose monitors on their mobile device?
- How will Generation X work with collecting and managing their medical data or the medical data of their parents?
- How will Millennials accept not being able to use their phone to check out at a physician’s office?
The answer to these questions will be very challenging for some, frustrating for others, and annoying for those accustomed to easy technology interactions.
The better question becomes:
How do we bridge the gap between the generations?
It is a question aimed directly at and added to “Where is your health leadership?”
The answer may be rather simple. We need to reach out and work across the generations.
- For sons and daughters, setting up accounts for your aging parents and showing them how to access certain information may help.
- For parents and grandparents, it will be asking youth for assistance and guidance on how all this healthcare “stuff” works on their mobile devices.
It is about reaching out to help each other, bringing extreme patience to our interactions.
Here are five suggestions:
- Spend time with your grandparents and parents, asking them about current health concerns and health lessons learned over the years.
- Find out if the elderly in your community know how to email confidently or how to connect with family and friends on Facebook.
- Ask your older relatives how their physicians are wanting to engage them electronically and then help them and answer their questions.
- Show other generations how you are tracking your own health and managing your physical well-being.
- Discuss the use of healthcare technology, mobile apps, and digital devices with different generations in the workplace. It is not a discussion about private health issues; it is a chat on how to better use technology to manage personal health.
Linking generations is about engaging conversations and exchanging information. Most importantly, it is about sharing experiences across the ages. We need to invest the time.
How have you bridged the generational healthcare technology gap? What suggestions would you add?