News Feature | August 6, 2015

AARP: Older Americans Open To mHealth

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

clinical trials

An AARP report demonstrates most older adults in America are open to using mobile devices but are hindered by physical barriers and complicated apps.

In some cases, older Americans are set in their ways. However, new research conducted by AARP showed mHealth is one new thing seniors are willing to try. According to the study, while open to using mHealth devices, seniors expressed a need for simpler and easier to wear devices.

Fierce Mobile Healthcare explains that for the study, nearly 100 elderly patients were provided with activity and sleep tracking devices that they were instructed to use for a period of six weeks. Effectiveness and usability were participant’s top concerns after the trial.

Some 89 percent of participants had difficulty in the setup process. In fact, 81 percent of participants 70-plus could not finish setting up their device without assistance. Forty-seven percent noted issues while trying to sync their device with many participants not realizing their devices needed to be connected in the first place.

Some participants said the devices were difficult to wear and 34 participants reported discomfort due to band inflexibility, incorrect band size, and clasps on wrist-worn trackers that irritated the skin. Some others even claimed to have developed a rash after wearing their trackers consistently.

In the end, 77 percent considered the tools useful and 71 percent said that the devices helped them gain greater insight of activity and sleep patterns. Forty-five percent reported that the devices boosted motivation to be healthier, and 46 percent said testing the devices helped increased activity levels.

Some participants did not finish the six-week period according to iHealth Beat, citing the following reasons:

  • challenges in finding and using instructions
  • data inaccuracy
  • device malfunctions or data syncing issues
  • difficulties in attaching and wearing the devices

Based on this research, the AARP study concluded the ideal mobile health device for those 50 and older would be informative, simple, accessible, invisible, instantaneous, targeted, and meaningfully engaging.