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How Seniors Are Using Telehealth
Medicine has always been at the forefront of science and technology but never has the marriage of the two been more apparent or important than today. The advent of telehealth has proven particularly impactful for seniors, changing the way they receive their medical care and, in turn, enhancing their overall quality of life.
Accessibility and Safety
Long before the outbreak of COVID-19, consistent access to quality medical care was a persistent challenge for many seniors. From difficulty in arranging transportation to and from medical appointments to the risk and inconvenience of leaving home for frail seniors and those with disabilities, difficulties with accessibility led to missed appointments and inconsistent care.
In the wake of the pandemic outbreak, however, the benefits of telehealth for seniors have only increased. Seniors, especially those with chronic health conditions, are keeping up with their medical care without risking exposure to the virus.
Improving Quality of Care
Not only are seniors using telehealth to maintain consistent access to their healthcare teams without hazarding a trip to the medical office, but they’re also using telemedicine to enhance the quality of their care. In addition to virtual office visits, telehealth technologies enable seniors and their healthcare teams to monitor patients’ health 24/7.
For example, seniors are using smartphone apps to track their nutrition and sleep patterns and they’re using wearable devices to remotely monitor their vital signs, from heart rate to blood pressure. All this invaluable data can be instantaneously transferred to the senior’s healthcare team, who will use it to provide a customized care plan that is second-to-none.
Accessing Mental Healthcare
Seniors are not only using telehealth to enhance their physical healthcare, they’re also using it to access mental healthcare services, perhaps for the first time. Studies show that mental health conditions such as depression are a particular concern for seniors, especially in the COVID-19 era, when the need to self-isolate has led more seniors than ever before to grapple with feelings of loneliness and isolation.
With the touch of a button on their smartphone, tablet, or computers, seniors who are struggling with mental health issues can access the care they need at any time, day or night, without ever leaving home. Without such in-home access to care, seniors may never have sought the help they needed, with potentially fatal results.
Reducing Medical Costs
Seniors are leveraging the vast and growing benefits of telehealth not only to improve the consistency and quality of their medical care but also to reduce their medical care costs.
Many private insurers are now covering telehealth services. For those that don’t, however, many seniors are opting to pay for services out of pocket, as many telehealth service providers offer a fee-per-service payment structure that is often substantially more affordable than traditional services.
In addition, seniors who have Medicare can find most, if not all, of their telehealth services covered through the program. This is due to a change in federal law in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to encourage and enable seniors to use telemedicine to access healthcare while remaining safely at home and reducing the burden on the traditional healthcare system.
To make the most of your telehealth experience, though, it’s important to prepare for the virtual visit ahead of time. This would include downloading any apps you might need and setting up access to the secure patient portal, as well as testing the mic and camera to ensure everything is working well. You’ll also want to be prepared to provide your medical history and prescription information, either in the patient portal, or directly to your care provider during the first visit. And, of course, you’ll want to determine if your insurance or Medicare will cover your visit, or if you will use a fee-per-service plan. With all these measures in place, a telehealth visit can be a remarkably efficient and effective way for seniors to receive care!
The popularity and proliferation of telehealth services among seniors are proving that this particular demographic is a lot more tech-savvy than the stereotypes might allow. Today’s seniors are harnessing the power of telemedicine to optimize the quality, consistency, and affordability of care. And not only are they using these services for physical healthcare, but they’re also leveraging them to receive mental health services so important to surviving and thriving in these troubled times.