Obstacles to using online health services among adults age 50 and up and the role of family support in overcoming them

Y. Mizrachi, S. Shahrabani, M. Nachmani, A. Hornik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Using Online Health Services (OHS) could benefit older adults greatly and could also reduce the burden on the health system. Yet invisible obstacles or barriers appear to impede mass adoption of these services among this population group. The aim of the current research is to provide a qualitative picture of these invisible obstacles and to profile their main features, with special attention to the role of family members in supporting OHS use among this population group. Methods: This qualitative study entailed a series of in-depth, semi-structured, open phone interviews conducted with 31 individuals age 50 and up in Israel, who constituted a sample of OHS users and non-users among older adults. Results: Four major themes and primary observations emerge from our data: 1. While older adults are aware of OHS to some extent, they often do not fully understand the specific benefits of using these services; 2. Older adults need to acquire much more experience with OHS use. OHS user interfaces still have a long way to go for older adults to feel comfortable using them. People age 50 and up seem to be less concerned about privacy and security issues than about seemingly more trivial issues such as recovering forgotten passwords; 3. Family members can play key roles in helping older adults adopt OHS by providing technical support as well as encouragement; 4. Older adults have worthwhile recommendations for innovations and policy improvements that would facilitate wider adoption of OHS. Conclusions: The results of the current study reveal important nuances regarding the importance of awareness, user interface and experience for OHS use among older adults, as well as the critical role of family members in OHS adoption. Based on these findings, we recommend the following: Expanding advertising on media channels to emphasize the benefits of OHS use; improving HMO websites to make them more user-friendly for older people; developing HMO-run community OHS guidance programs geared to older people to reduce the gap between required skills and user competencies, thus enabling older people to benefit from OHS use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 21 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Compliance
  • Israel
  • Older adults
  • Online health services


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