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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Easier Access to Doctors but Not Necessarily for Seniors

It used to be that if you wanted to talk to your doctor you had no choice but make an appointment – and possibly wait weeks or months to see them.

As most of us are aware, that’s no longer the case. More and more medical offices, especially those associated with hospitals, are creating patient portals. The result is that you can have a simple question for your doctor, and by sending an email using a patient portal, you can often get an answer within hours.

But the part of our population that most needs this kind of access are not yet taking full advantage of it. A recent University of Michigan study of 2,000 older adults, found that only half use a patient portal.

For those who don’t the most common reason was they were afraid to use the internet to discuss their health issues. A full 52 percent said they were not comfortable communicating with their doctor in this fashion.

The study also showed that better-educated, higher-income patients were more likely to use a patient portal. But the problem there is that poorer people with less education often have more health-related issues.

Most experts believe that it is a problem that will simply go away slowly over time. Researchers believe that seniors who are less familiar with computer technology are not likely to change their habits. But as a younger, more computer-savvy group age, the patient portal will become a more effective tool for seniors.



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