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Think Elderly Patients Won’t Complete Digital Forms? Think Again…  

Author: Ravi Kalidindi
An elderly woman works on her laptop completing digital intake forms before her doctor’s appointment.

Many healthcare providers recognize the value of digital forms, but aren’t convinced their elderly patients will be open to (or capable of) using them.

We hear this worry all the time, and though it’s primarily rooted in stereotypes, it’s still a real concern for many organizations.

Here’s the truth: Elderly patients will embrace digital forms — if you design the forms correctly. Keep reading to learn how to make sure your digital forms accommodate your elderly patient population.

Will Elderly Patients Embrace New Technology?

How do we know elderly patients will use digital forms? We’ve seen it.

Many Simple Interact users are tracking high participation rates in their digital forms from elderly patients. For example, we have orthopedic clients — with higher-than-average populations of elderly patients — who log above 90% form completion rates. We even have family care clients in rural areas with similar rates.

Most older adults have already embraced some form of newer technology — whether it be a smartphone or Facebook — and are open to using more. But if the process isn’t seamless and easy to understand, they may abandon it before giving it a chance.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t exclusive to elderly patients. The busy young adult, the working professional, the harried parent — anyone who encounters unnecessary frustration — will do the same thing! 

Infographic: Think Elderly Patients Won’t Complete Digital Forms? Think Again…

How to Optimize Digital Forms for All Ages

If you want to improve patient participation in digital forms, you have to make those forms easy to use for all your patients, elderly included. Here are a few ways you can streamline and simplify your digital forms:

Reach Patients Where They Are

Instead of asking patients to visit your website, log in to your patient portal, or download yet another app, meet them where they are. In other words, contact them through the apps and devices they already use — like email, web browsers, or SMS. By reaching them on the device and through the applications they already have, you reduce friction and confusion, thereby improving compliance.

Simply send patients a link to the appropriate digital form via email or text message. When the patient clicks on the link, have it open in their installed browser. That way, they can easily fill in their information.

This allows patients to complete their forms on the device they feel most comfortable with. For example, if an elderly patient doesn’t have a smartphone (or doesn’t feel confident using one), they can use their preferred device instead. Or, if a patient only has a smartphone, they don’t have to track down a laptop to access your forms. (And definitely don’t ask them to use a printer.)

Eliminate Roadblocks

Even seemingly small inconveniences can throw up unnecessary roadblocks that reduce patient participation with digital forms.

For example, requiring patients to create (and remember) a username and/or password to access forms hinders compliance. Forgetting usernames and passwords is so common it’s practically a proverb, whether someone is 18 or 80. Instead, consider using the patient’s date of birth for authentication to eliminate frustration so they can fill out forms without a hassle.

Patients also don’t want to be asked to download a “special app” to complete their forms. In fact, if push comes to shove, they’d probably rather complete forms in the office. Sending a link to the patient via SMS or email takes as much onus off the patient as possible and improves participation.

Create an Easy-to-Read Layout

Getting patients to access a form is just part of the challenge — the other is getting them to complete it. Digital forms should be responsive, and their look and feel should be organized and clear.

Ask yourself the following questions. If the answers are “yes,” your form’s layout accommodates patients of all ages:

  • Is the text size responsive and large enough for someone with poor eyesight to read easily?
  • Is the contrast between the text and the background pronounced enough to read easily?
  • To avoid visual overwhelm, is there an appropriate amount of information displayed on the screen at one time (as much as is necessary, and no more)?
  • Are the buttons and selections big enough and spaced out enough for a user to select with a finger without hitting the wrong item?

Make Forms Easy to Understand

Questions and choices on patient forms should be brief, straightforward, and easy to understand to avoid confusion.

When creating patient forms, carefully consider each question and its answer options. Well-thought-out questions and clickable answers prevent patient frustration and ensure you get the information you need. Find easy ways for patients to answer questions, such as checkboxes and dropdown menus, to simplify the process and improve the quality of the answers.

Quote: Think Elderly Patients Won’t Complete Digital Forms? Think Again…

Improve Digital Form Participation for Elderly Patients (and Others) With Simple Interact

Many elderly patients are well-equipped to complete digital forms, but they’re counting on you to make those forms clear, concise, and easy to access!

Simple Interact helps clients improve patient participation and create easy-to-navigate forms that all patients will complete — including elderly patients. Request a demo of our front-office automation platform, and if you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch!

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