Older adults are the largest consumers of health care and require the greatest portion of health care costs. How older adults manage their health has profound consequences for health delivery systems, health care expenditure, and public health. Faced with changes in functioning, chronic diseases and transitions in living situation, older adults require organized access to their health information to make significant health-related decisions. Personal health information management (PHIM) systems for older adults exist, but few older adults use them. Limitations include poor health literacy, poor computer skills, and physical or cognitive disabilities. The goal of this research is to improve the design of PHIM systems for older adults through advancing our understanding of the PHIM needs, practices and preferences of older adults and their stakeholders. Using an integrative sociotechnical approach, our multidisciplinary research team will conduct a series of qualitative interviews, focus groups, surveys and usability studies to gain a deeper understanding of older adult personal health information management needs and context. This research will address the following aims: 1) Characterize the personal health information management (PHIM) needs and practices of older adults from diverse socioeconomic groups and in a variety of residential contexts, 2) Examine the roles which key stakeholders play in personal health information management for older adults, 3) Use the Balance Theory framework to model the personal health information needs and practices of older adults and 4) Develop a set of design concepts, design and design guidelines to meet the identified PHIM needs and preferences. The long term goal of this work is to improve the design and development of health information management systems that support the health and independence of older adults.
Older adults are the largest consumers of health care and their use of the healthcare system has profound consequences for the nation's health care delivery as a whole. It is essential that older adults have organized access to health information for making informed decisions that are both efficient and consonant with their needs and values. Through advancing our understanding of the health information management needs and practices of older adults, this research will inform the design of effective health information management systems that support the health and independence of older adults.