As society continues to shift toward reduced human touchpoints and physical distancing amid the coronavirus, telemedicine has seen a major surge in popularity and usage. Telehealth services address the ongoing need for medical treatment – physicians and other healthcare providers can furnish services to their patients at remote locations, including in their own homes. So, what are the Major Benefits of Telehealth for seniors?
The expansion of these services, including services provided under Medicare, has proven especially important for older adults. Virtually everyone in this age group faces a greater risk for becoming very ill if they become infected with COVID-19, so it’s critical that these older adults avoid unnecessary interactions.
There are so many ways older adults and family caregivers can leverage the benefits of telehealth. Digital healthcare services lower the need for in-person appointments, reduce the cost of care, and can improve overall patient satisfaction.
The Major benefits of telehealth for seniors fall into three broad categories:
1. Removing Mobility-related Barriers to Care
Many people begin to experience difficulty getting around as they age. Older adults with mobility limitations can leverage telehealth services to connect with healthcare professionals without having to leave the comfort and security of their homes. Real-time connection with providers about primary health concerns, including joint pain, muscle stiffness, medications, and accident management and prevention, can improve overall outcomes in this population.
The at-home nature of telehealth is especially beneficial for older adults and their caregivers who live in rural communities who might otherwise need to dedicate a full day to getting to and from an appointment.
2. Avoiding Unnecessary Hospital Visits
Visits to the emergency room can be incredibly costly and are, in many cases, completely avoidable. Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, between 13% to 27% of total visits to the emergency room could be managed in an outpatient setting – saving $4.4 billion each year.
Expanded telehealth services provide older adults with an opportunity to speak with a healthcare professional as soon as they suspect something may be wrong. This allows seniors to connect with care providers from their home – meaning they can avoid going to hospital or the doctor’s office for needs and concerns Real-time discussions about health issues removes the need for unnecessary wait times, scheduling additional appointments and making additional trips.
The benefits of telehealth can also improve quality of life for patients after they’ve had a procedure in the hospital. In most cases, procedures require follow-up visits – and with telehealth older adults can avoid going back to the doctor or hospital to have those conversations.
3. Improved Chronic Disease Management
The key to effective management of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension or heart disease is staying on top of treatment guidance – including medication schedules and dietary habits. Easy access and communication with healthcare professionals through telehealth services can help improve overall chronic disease management among the senior population by bridging gaps in care through increased touchpoints. Healthcare providers can have more consistent insights into how their patients’ diseases are progressing over time – which can help avoid emergencies in the long run.
Improved and expanded telehealth services promote safety and convenience for older adults in managing their care. Patients and providers are getting better at leveraging technologies for care management, and we expect that trend to continue moving in a positive direction. Check out these other great technologies for seniors.
Looking for more information about caring for older adults? Check out the other resources on BoomersHub. Our platform is dedicated to serving the older patient population.