You have an idea for an app you think will improve the care of your patients/clients, but what you want to know is will it achieve what you think it will. Will your clients even use it? The answer is: it depends. The main thing to consider is the age of your patients or the age of those caring for your patients. Age and app use is intrinsically entwined.

Technology cohorts

Consumers of technology can be roughly categorised as follows:

Post-War Cohort (1928–1945): 73–90 years old in 2018 (also known as the Silent Generation)

  • Rarely use technology.

Baby Boomers (1946–1965): 53–72 years old in 2018

  • Slower on the uptake of mobile technology but its use is becoming more prevalent—tablets tend to be the device of choice as they are easier to read.

Generation X (1966–1976): 42–52 years old in 2018

  • Use both tablets and smartphones.

Generation Y or Millennials (1977–1994): 24–41 years old in 2018

  • Avid users of technology—more likely to have a smartphone than a tablet.

Generation Z (1995–2012): 6–23 years old in 2018

  • Smartphone natives. Smartphones are part of their daily lives. They can use them before they can talk or even walk. Swiping is second nature to them. Wearable technology will also be a part of their lives.

The biggest group of healthcare recipients in Australia is the over fifty-five age group, but this is also the age group who use technology the least and is less likely to use an app. This could be one of the reasons why healthcare apps have not yet become as popular as other types of apps.

If this is your clientele then an app is probably not a good idea, but you may find the carers of these elderly people do use smartphones and tablets/iPads. Something to consider.

But remember, this situation will change. Not only will technology use eventually break through to the older generations; as the years go by, the generations who expect information to be provided on an app will begin to experience increased healthcare needs.

Statistics relating to age and app use

If your clientele is twenty something new mothers, then their phone is usually less than an arm’s length away and they access their phones more than 150 times a day. They are ready.

At present, less than two per cent of Australian hospitals/healthcare providers are using this type of technology, it is just a ripple. Yet, a recent survey found that forty-six per cent of healthcare professionals planned to use a healthcare app in 2017.

In 2017, the mobile health market reached over 3.4 billion smartphone users and these users will be expecting an app from their healthcare providers. This, combined with the ageing population and the focus on looking after patients in the community, means that apps will not only be expected, they will be required.

This wave of change has started to gather momentum and it is expected that in the next five years, health apps will become integrated into most healthcare processes.

Therefore, look at the age group of your clients and ask them whether they would find an app beneficial.

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