Addressing the Personal Health Information Management Needs of Older Adults (Washington)

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Summary:

As older adults age, they are faced with changes in functioning, chronic diseases, and care transitions. As the largest consumers of healthcare, how they manage their health has profound consequences for health delivery, healthcare expenditures, and public health. With the growing emphasis on personal responsibility for health, older adults must manage a large amount of health information about their medications, appointments, preventive care needs, management of chronic conditions, and results of radiology and laboratory tests—all from a variety of sources and in diverse formats. Research indicates that few older adults use technology tools, such as personal health records, to help manage personal health information. Some of the reported barriers to using these tools are low health literacy, lack of computer skills, and physical and cognitive impairments. Designing useful and effective tools for older adults requires a deeper and more organized understanding of their personal health information management (PHIM) needs and practices.

This study sought to gain an understanding of the PHIM needs and practices of older adults and their caregivers to inform the design of health information technologies that support older adult health and independence.

The specific aims of this research were as follows:

  • Describe the PHIM goals, activities, and practices of older adults from different socio-economic groups living in a variety of residential contexts. 
  • Examine the roles, needs, and practices of key stakeholders involved in the management of older adults’ health information. 
  • Develop a model of attributes of PHIM needs and practices for older adults and their key stakeholders. 
  • Apply a user-centered design approach to create a set of evidence-based design guidelines for health information management tools for older adults. 

The investigators conducted focus groups and interviews with older adults and interviews with their friends, family, and healthcare providers to gain an understanding of their PHIM needs and practices. Based on qualitative and cluster analyses of the interview and focus group data, they created and evaluated design guidelines and personas to assist in the design of PHIM systems for older adults. These personas and design guidelines were integrated into a design guidebook, The Essential Guide to Older Adult-Centered Design: Supporting Personal Health Information Management, which assists designers and developers in creating health information technology systems that better meet the needs of older adults and their caregivers.

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Addressing the Personal Health Information Management Needs of Older Adults - Final Report

Citation:
Turner A. Addressing the Personal Health Information Management Needs of Older Adults - Final Report. (Prepared by the University of Washington under Grant No. R01 HS022106). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2019. (PDF, 691.36 KB)

The findings and conclusions in this document are those of the author(s), who are responsible for its content, and do not necessarily represent the views of AHRQ. No statement in this report should be construed as an official position of AHRQ or of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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