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GPs think older patients cannot handle health apps on phones

PUBLISHED

Over-55s are not being recommended useful health technology as GPs presume they cannot use a smartphone, say researchers

Older patients are being excluded from beneficial health technology because “ageist” doctors presume they cannot work a smartphone, research has suggested.
Experts have accused doctors of “stereotyping” older people as being incapable of using technology and warned patient safety was being put at risk by a failure to support them in using appropriate online health tools.
 
GPs typically recommend NHS-approved health apps to about one in 10 patients aged under 35 to help them manage their conditions between appointments, such as by reminding them to take medications or monitoring their symptoms. However, doctors recommend the same apps to just one in 25 patients over 55 and one in 50 patients over 65, according to research by the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA), which assesses apps for the health service.
The same research found 55 per cent of over-55s would be happy to try using a health app if it was recommended, while nine in 10 over-55s and eight in 10 over-65s who have used a health app felt satisfied or very satisfied with the experience.
 
The NHS Long Term Plan states that patients should have access to “digital tools” to manage their health and studies have shown NHS-approved health apps can have clinical benefits.

Older people ‘will benefit from digital products’

However, Helen Hughes, the chief executive of the charity Patient Safety Learning, suggested ageist assumptions about older people’s technological ability meant they were missing out.
 
“The data suggests that older people maybe being stereotyped, with assumptions they won’t be computer literate,” she said. “Plenty of older people are tech savvy – or at least willing to learn – and will really benefit from being able to manage their health from home, using digital products. Older patients need to be offered technology solutions with support on how best to use them, if this is needed.”
 
She warned there was also “a significant patient safety issue” with the failure to advise patients about NHS-approved apps, as it left older patients at risk of inadvertently downloading one of the thousands of unreliable health apps available.

To read the full article (paywalled), click here
Original Source: The Telegraph

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