Although it was common to be wary of virtual medical visits in the past, the safety and convenience of telehealth have made these services preferable for most people in recent years. An article by Adam Fenster on healthcare trends shared that urgent virtual care visits at a hospital in New York exploded by 683%, while non-urgent virtual visits increased by 4,345% in 2020 alone. Experts predict that this trend is not going away any time soon. Instead, it will continue to expand in the future since telehealth will grow sevenfold by 2025, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 38.2%.
With this, people can expect that more hospitals and medical professionals will offer and improve telehealth services in various specializations, especially for vulnerable populations, such as pediatrics and geriatrics.
If you’re thinking about using telehealth, here are some reasons why it is advantageous for older adults:
Convenient Access to Healthcare
A study by Elizabeth Goldberg on telehealth for older adults discussed how various physicians acknowledge the benefit of telehealth in making healthcare services efficient and practical for patients. Instead of traveling to clinics or hospitals and waiting in reception rooms, telehealth allows elderly patients to wait and attend appointments in the comfort and safety of their homes. This is especially helpful for elderly patients with mobility issues and those who don’t have companions to take them to clinics. Moreover, this also allows them to save waiting time and money on transportation.
Besides video calls, telehealth gives physicians more opportunities to connect with elderly patients outside clinical settings using text messaging platforms. Goldberg also mentioned how telehealth enables physicians to share accurate public health information with their patients. For example, it can be an avenue for physicians to relay preventive healthcare practices as we discussed in our previous article on ‘Building a Healthy Diet After 50’, which emphasized the importance of making active lifestyle changes, particularly once you reach a certain age.
Better Health Monitoring Technologies
Since elderly patients are susceptible to sudden spikes in blood pressure and sugar levels and even falls, healthcare providers must be aware of these changes to help them adjust their prescriptions and lifestyle recommendations. Fortunately, recent medical technologies now enable healthcare providers to monitor and keep track of their patients regardless of their location. One of the telehealth solutions listed by Wheel is clinical documentation, which allows all clinicians to record and review patient visits, calls, laboratory results, and care plans using software. This is useful for various medical professionals since it helps them understand what each patient needs depending on their condition.
Another benefit of clinical documentation is that it can be easily integrated with existing electronic health records, which is important to review before prescribing medications or performing procedures on elderly patients. Investing in clinical documentation software also means that all relevant medical information about the patient, such as their medical history and diagnostic results, is always up-to-date.
Less Strain On At-Home Caregivers
Although caregivers have the best intentions when caring for elderly patients, they are also prone to stress and caregiver burnout. This is why Minakshi Raj claimed that telehealth policies and practices must also involve the well-being of the caregivers. In Raj’s study, they found that most caregivers believe that telehealth can help improve the relationship and rapport between older patients and care providers. Ensuring a pleasant relationship between the patient and caregiver is important because their relationship is related to the quality of protection care providers can give to elderly patients.
Besides fostering better relationships, most respondents reported that telehealth is a great help for elderly patients with mobility limitations. With this, they don’t have to worry about how to safely get to and from the hospital. Moreover, telehealth services give care providers a sense of relief because it is available anytime and anywhere.