In the United States, telehealth use was 78 times higher in April 2020 than in February 2020. Telehealth user numbers are unlikely to return to pre-2020 levels, even when the pandemic ends, which is very good news for rural communities. More demand increases the likelihood of healthcare providers offering telehealth services as standard.
Inaccessible healthcare is a long-standing issue. Even in wealthy and geographically small countries, poor access to healthcare is a widespread problem. In the United Kingdom, nearly one in seven older people, which equates to 1.4 million citizens, can’t access the care they need.
And it’s the older people who are often most in need, making poor access to healthcare a significant mortality risk. According to the CDC, rural residents are more likely to die prematurely from all five of the leading causes of death than their city-dwelling counterparts. These causes include heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. The agency cites telehealth’s effectiveness in reducing barriers to care for those living far away from specialists or who have transportation or mobility issues.
A generation of tech-savvy seniors
Millennials are more likely to live in urban areas but are keen to keep using telehealth services. The results of one study show that younger generations enjoy the convenience telehealth can offer. Most are even willing to pay more money to use telehealth over traditional visits to a medical center. These findings strongly suggest that telehealth can one day close the gap between rural and urban healthcare.
Telehealthcare services must include secure messaging, video consultations, remote patient monitoring features, and more. But getting used to these platforms involves a big learning curve.
Luckily, many senior citizens can easily adapt to new technology. A study conducted in the United States found that four in ten people aged 65 and above now own a smartphone. One-third own a tablet computer, and the number of seniors using social media is growing every year.
This illustrates that despite some people finding physical activities more challenging with age, the same may not be true for adopting new technology. So for an older person who finds travel difficult, digital technology can give them the quality care, support, and advice they need.