While you may not expect to find a majority of elderly on Twitter, a study recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found more senior citizens (aged 65 and older) are participating in monitoring personal health records online than young adults aged 18 to 35.
The study measured participation in implementing the use of personal health records online. According to the American Health Information Management Association, a personal health record (PHR) “is a tool that you can use to collect, track and share past and current information about your health or the health of someone in your care. Sometimes this information can save you the money and inconvenience of repeating routine medical tests. Even when routine procedures do need to be repeated, your PHR can give medical care providers more insight into your personal health story.”
The study’s authors reviewed 32,274 people who had adopted (they termed them “adopters”) using a PHR, and found 27% were “high users” who had logged into their personal health records over ten times in the previous two years. Out of those “high users” 41% (the majority of the high users) were between the ages of 51 and 65 years.
Race and socioeconomic status were shown to correlate with the rate of PHR (or EMR for electronic medical records) adoption through this study as well.
“In this study, we found the presence of a digital divide in a diverse population. Specifically, racial/ethnic minorities and patients with lower socioeconomic status were less likely to adopt a PHR. However, both of these groups used the PHR as much as other groups if they were able to adopt it,” according to one of the study’s authors.
Currently there are online personal health record services, and (for those concerned about privacy issues) there are products which allow you to maintain the same information on your own computer via special software.
According to the AHIMA: “Each supplier has different policies and practices regarding how they may use data they store for the individual. Study the policies and procedures carefully to make sure you understand how your personal health information will be used and protected. Policies to look for include privacy and security; the ability of the individual, or those they authorize, to access their information; and control over accessibility by others.”
The United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has put together concise information regarding personal health records, which you can view here, or click here for more detailed information.
To read more about the benefits and disadvantages related to online storage of medical health records, click here. For those concerned about privacy and online identity theft, ActiveForever.com offers USB and card medical records software you maintain, access, and save offline. If you’ve been thinking of purchasing something similar for your aging parents but were concerned it would be too difficult or they wouldn’t use it, the above study suggests otherwise.