- Despite having more health issues, older Americans are less likely than their younger counterparts to search for medical information on the internet, the Los Angeles Times reports.
- The report published Tuesday in JAMA found just 18% of Medicare beneficiaries participating in the National Health and Aging Trends Study sought health information online in 2014.
- In June, Google, the world's most popular search engine, announced a partnership with Mayo Clinic and the Harvard Medical School to improve its symptom search by reviewing individual symptom information
In contrast to senior citizens, 60% of adults overall say they consult Dr. Google at least once yearly and 35% seek information online to help them diagnose health concerns, the Times says.
However, using symptom-checking websites has its drawbacks like causing individuals to self-diagnose and overlook unrelated symptoms, Ask the Doctor CMO Michael Warner told Healthcare Dive.
The number of senior citizens using the Web for health information in 2014 was only slightly higher than in 2011, when the aging trends study began — 25% versus 21%. Of the 7.609 initial participants in the study, 16% said they go online to find answers about health, 8% used it to fill prescriptions, 7% to contact their doctors and 5% to deal with insurers.
White seniors were twice as likely to seek health information online than blacks and Latinos, and college graduates were seven times more likely to do so than seniors who had not finished high school.
The researchers also found that perception about one’s own health influenced their internet use. Seniors who considered themselves to be in excellent health were twice as likely to tap into the Web for health information than those felt they were in poor health.
The report comes amid government efforts to expand use of digital devices to improve health outcomes. On Tuesday, the Federal Communication Commission launched a new mapping tool to identify gaps and opportunities for broadband access to improve healthcare in the U.S.