How best to help older people to understand the benefit of technology? (UK)

Last week we reported on the survey commissioned by the National Telehealth Forum that found that 9 out of 10 people didn’t know what the word ‘telehealth’ meant, a proportion that was worse for those who were more likely to need it. We suggested that asking a different question about whether they knew that technology could enable them to remain in their own home might give a more positive response.

Well no sooner said than (sort of) done – Invicta Telecare reported a similar-sized poll that, among many, included the finding that “more than three out of five over-65s (65%)…admit they hadn’t seriously thought about the type of care and support they would prefer as they get older during the last five years”. Other responses in the interesting survey seem to confirm that a significant number of older people are in denial of the implications of their age so are inadequately prepared to remain independent.

This clearly strengthens the conclusion from our earlier piece, and from our retrospective on why O2 pulled out of this field of the increasingly pressing need to make people aware of how technology can support independent living. Is 3millionlives the way forward?

This is obviously a topic of great interest that will undoubtedly be debated this autumn particularly at the two conferences specifically aimed at how technology can supporting people to age well, run by the Kings Fund on 22nd October and the Royal Society of Medicine on 25 and 26th November. (Disclosure: Charles Lowe is one of the organisers of the latter).

So 9 out of 10 people haven’t heard of ‘telehealth’…and your point is?

Apparently echoing the comments about health technology awareness made in our post last week about O2 (who are, by the way, to be congratulated for their parent company’s announcement today that they are preferred bidders for two of the three smart meter regions), the HSJ has reported the results of a YouGov poll that nine out of ten adults in the UK have never heard of telehealth.  Of those over 55, the age above which use of telehealth is more likely, 92% hadn’t heard of it. (Note that the HSJ article is behind a paywall, however via a Google search on “National Telehealth Forum”, the commissioner of the survey, you can currently go past it). The National Telehealth Forum press release is here.  EHI also covers the story, here.

So is this a matter of serious concern?  (more…)