How digital healthcare apps can help all generations manage their health

Catherine McDermott, chief digital officer at McKesson UK, shares her thoughts on how digital healthcare apps can help all people manage their health, even older generations.

We live in a more informed time compared with previous generations. We can find out when the next series of the Great British Bake Off is back on TV, check how our long-lost friends are and catch-up on the latest news headlines, all in the palm of our hand. Yet, it was interesting to read a new report showing that a large percentage of us mistrust technology to help us with our health.

Published in August by PAGB, a consumer healthcare association, the report uncovered a wide gap between how much the younger generation uses digital tools to manage their health compared with baby boomers and older generations. The survey discovered that two thirds of 18-35 year olds trust health and wellbeing digital devices and apps, but only a quarter of 46-55 year olds feel the same way.

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has already spoken about the importance of enabling people to take more control over managing their health using digital technology. The research shows that younger people are embracing this ethos with nearly two thirds of 18-35 year olds using a digital device or mobile phone app. This is compared to only 13% of 56-65 year olds.

John Smith, PAGB Chief Executive, noted how the research shows “younger people, in particular, want digital solutions in healthcare”. We can see this in the rise in popularity of digital devices and mobile apps. These are becoming useful tools for helping to prevent illness before it happens; allowing people to put more focus on managing their health on a daily basis.

We understand the trepidation some, especially the older generations, may feel about digital health. It is our role to improve the trustworthiness and reliability of online resources when there is so much fake news. We have already begun this journey to inspire confidence in our online platforms. The more people we can encourage to go online, we believe will have a positive effect on the capacity challenges facing GPs and the NHS.

Our LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor is a great example of a service that has already built up trust with its customers. It is renowned for the privacy, discretion, and convenience we can provide. Customers can find clear content that is easy to understand, giving them more knowledge and reassurance about their condition.

We have a team of online GPs, which means that patients can avoid the often-inconvenient journey to their local GP. If required, they can be referred to a pharmacist or we can recommend appropriate self-care options.

People with busy work lives, struggling to make time to visit their local pharmacy during opening hours, also have the option to order their repeat prescriptions online. We recently acquired Echo, an online pharmacy tool, which is designed to make the whole pharmacy experience simpler for the end-patient. We now all have a more active role to play in managing our health, which is vital for the future sustainability of the NHS.

It is clear to see by looking at the rising number of adults using the internet for online banking and looking up information about goods and services that there is a growing trust in digital tools. The desire for adults of all ages to use the internet to improve their lives is there, and we want LloydsPharmacy to be at their fingertips when looking for expertise and guidance around health.