Older patients are being overlooked by healthcare professionals who are failing to recommend health apps to them which could have a significant impact on their wellbeing, research suggests.

Research from the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA) revealed that GPs had recommended a health app to just 7% of over 45s, 4% of over 55s and only 2% of other over 65s. Similar patterns of recommendations were also found amongst other healthcare workers.

Yet despite this 55% of over 55s and 52% of over 65s are ready and willing to embrace health technology, ORCHA found. Even more significantly, 90% of over 55s and 81% of over 65s who have previously used a health app have been satisfied with the end result.

Liz Ashall-Payne, founding CEO of ORCHA, said: “According to the Kind’s Fund, 58% of over 60s now have a long-term health condition – and there are hundreds of top-quality apps which are free to use and could be supporting them. Perhaps it’s natural that healthcare workers would be most likely to make recommendations to younger patients. But there could be some instances were older people are pretty tech savvy and would happily embrace a fresh approach.”

The scope of using health apps is varied for the over 55s. Research shows the ways they’re most likely to use them includes tracking and monitoring symptoms; aiding recovery from surgery; being alerted to potential conditions; supporting lifestyle changes; and to educate themselves about a condition.

ORCHA has also released a list of health apps that it recommends for older people, particularly those who may be new to healthcare technology. They are:

  • Medisafe: pill reminder and medication tracker
  • Google Fit: activity tracker
  • Eat Right Now: 28-day food programme
  • Sleepio: to help overcome sleep issues
  • CogniFit – Brain Training: brain fitness solutions

Crucially, these apps are ORCHA recommended, which is vital in the unregulated world of health apps and with 80% of apps falling below quality levels.