Older people need online doctors, too

26.01.21 | News
Ældre og digitalisering
Photographer
Ritzau/Scanpix
In recent years, the use of online services as an alternative to visiting a doctor in person has increased significantly in some of the Nordic countries. However, the number of older people using online doctors is lagging behind. The Committee for Welfare in the Nordic Region is concerned about this, and recommends that the Nordic Council of Ministers investigate the issue to ensure that everybody in the Region has equal access to medical care.

“Digital health initiatives have many positive effects that benefit people in every corner of the Nordic Region, but some older people struggle with new technologies. They need assistance from official agencies, and to provide that help we need to learn about the challenges everybody faces and identify potential solutions. No elderly person should be left behind,” says Eva Lindh, a member of the Committee for Welfare in the Nordic Region. It is clear that older people encounter barriers when it comes to using digital services. For example, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare’s report “The Condition and Development of Health Care in 2020” shows that just 4% of 66–75-year-olds used digital services to confer with a doctor in 2019.      

COVID-19 makes the challenge clear

The COVID-19 crisis has prevented some people from visiting their doctor as often as they used to. This shows just how important digital solutions are –  as long as we use them. The issue is that a large proportion of older people do not. Significant numbers of less well educated people and people on low incomes do not take advantage of the digital options either. If they do not have the same access to medical services, they risk ending up at the back of the queue, behind others who perhaps have less acute problems. The Committee for Welfare in the Nordic Region is very concerned about this.  

“The Nordic governments must bring everybody on board the digital train with regard to e-medicine and other digital health initiatives. Ultimately, the training is running, even if some people are still standing on the platform,” Lindh stresses.

We must help older people board the digital health train – because it is running no matter what

Eva Lindh, Committee for Welfare in the Nordic Region

The Social Democratic Group in the Nordic Council

The proposal for a study of this area was made by the Social Democratic Group in the Nordic Council. The proposal was backed by the Committee for Welfare in the Nordic Region, which decided at its meeting today to recommend that the Nordic Council of Ministers launch a study of equal access to health services and prescriptions for antibiotics and other medicines.