Critter Corner: Using Telehealth to Age-in-Place

Dear Ribbit,

I am interested in possibly using telehealth instead of visiting the doctor’s office. What are the advantages of doing so?

Thanks,
Em Helth


Dear Em,

Telehealth (sometimes also known as mHealth), is making it easier for seniors to live out their golden years in their homes. Telehealth refers to any form of medical care delivered remotely, via technologies such as telephones, video conferencing platforms, the internet, and so on, the American Telemedicine Association explains.

It is projected that 87% of seniors age 65 and older, and 71% of those between 50 and 64, want to age in place, and will require home-based technology to make that a reality. So, more access to telehealth is much needed.

These are some of the major reasons why telemedicine is an effective approach to treat seniors:

1. Remote monitoring: Seniors are more likely to experience chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, illnesses that necessitate routine monitoring from healthcare providers. Certain telemedicine technologies can now be utilized by providers to keep an eye on things such as sugar levels and blood pressure. The fact that this can be done remotely curtails the need for routine in-person visits, which can be costly and difficult for seniors who may have mobility problems and/or limited access to transportation.

2. Lower chance of hospital admission
The use of telemedicine can improve communication between providers and patients, allowing physicians to keep a closer eye on older patients’ overall health. Monitoring in this way can allow providers to discern when patients may be becoming sick or at risk of experiencing medical emergencies. Intervention can be provided before a problem gets out of hand and develops to the point where hospital care is warranted.

3. Greater access to specialists
Given that specialists are not always located in every community, travel is often warranted, which can prove difficult for seniors with limited mobility and/or chronic conditions that impede movement. Telemedicine removes this barrier, connecting more seniors with necessary care provided by specialists.

4. Relieves stress for caregivers
Telemedicine can relieve some of the stress associated with caring for seniors. When telemedicine is used, family caregivers have greater access to providers who can give them information and help that can promote more effective care. Telemedicine can also save caregivers time. With a reduced need for routine in-person visits to providers, they can dedicate more time to care at home and to their own personal and professional lives.

5. Lower costs
Telemedicine is a more cost-effective option for both patients and providers. Telemedicine is beneficial for physicians because it allows for less time-consuming individual consultations, meaning that doctors can see more patients each day. And telemedicine means big savings for both patients and care homes, because consultations delivered virtually tend to cost less, not to mention the money saved in travel.

Hope this is helpful. Please read Evan’s article today to learn about the CHRONIC Act, and how it will make telemedicine even more mainstream and will likely be covered by Medicare in the future.

Ribbit

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