Telehealth Can Effectively Treat Older Patients

Treat Older Patients

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Telehealth may help some older adults maintain their independence, but many clinicians say it cannot effectively treat older patients. Telehealth aims to make it easier for patients to access care from a distance by using technology such as video chat and remote health monitoring tools for check-ins and medication reminders. But only some clinicians see it as a viable option for treating their geriatric patients. In fact, only 16% of clinicians think telehealth is “very useful” or “somewhat useful” when treating older patients. It is likely because of the technology’s challenges for providers and geriatric patients. 

A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in April 2019 found that physicians who have experience with end-of-life management are more likely than those without experience to recommend an EOL telemedicine program (TT) versus an in-person visit at home (HHA). The study included 469 primary care physicians across 37 states, and they were asked which type of care their patient preferred during an EOL encounter. In general, the majority of physicians agreed that both TTs and HHA programs should be used more often so that elderly patients have access to these services if needed.

A recent study suggests that despite some benefits, between 57 % and 61 percent doctors believe that the elderly are not receiving effective care via the use of telehealth. December 21, 2022, a recent survey was carried out by West Health and members of the Collaborative for Telehealth and Aging. It found that over 50% of physicians believe telehealth is not a good treatment option for people with chronic illnesses, suggesting a need for improvement. In the wake of the recent increase and growth of telehealth, the research on its clinical utility for various diseases and patients is increasing. A study, for instance, in October revealed how telehealth had facilitated access, plugged gaps in health equity, and showed huge potential for the future of telehealth for patients with mental illness.

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Telehealth for Adults with Chronic Conditions

Telehealth may be ideal for providing chronic care to older adults with heart disease, asthma, and diabetes, as these conditions can be managed at home through telemedicine programs. For example, patients with heart conditions may be able to manage their symptoms and medications through a telehealth tool like a heart health program. Telehealth can be useful for managing symptoms like pain or medical conditions like diabetes.

Telehealth for Confirmed Dementia/Alzheimer’s

Telehealth can provide individuals with a better understanding of their disease and allow them to manage their symptoms at home. Some clinicians may also use a telehealth tool to confirm a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Telehealth for “Functional” Conditions

Telehealth can also provide remote access to health programs that help manage “functional” conditions like asthma and arthritis. For example, a health program that helps manage asthma through medication reminders is a useful tool for those with the condition.

Telehealth for “Symptoms Only

Telehealth is also useful for managing symptoms in older adults with migraines, depression, and anxiety. Symptoms like these are difficult to treat effectively with medical care, and a telehealth tool can provide symptom relief for these conditions that impact older adults.

Telehealth for Routine Care

In addition to chronic conditions, some clinicians may also use telehealth to provide routine care. For example, telehealth can remind patients when they need to refill prescriptions, complete fitness activities, or manage dental issues.

What Would Clinicians Recommend to Their Patients?

In order to assess how often clinicians would recommend a telehealth program to their patients, the researchers surveyed the clinicians on their current recommendations. They also asked the clinicians to rate the benefits and drawbacks of using a telehealth program. Most clinicians (86%) reported that they recommend using a TT program to their patients. Similarly, most clinicians (80%) reported that they currently recommend using a TT program over an in-person encounter.

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What Clinicians Say is “Very Hard” or “Very Difficult” With Telehealth

For many conditions, using a telehealth tool poses few challenges for the clinician. However, clinicians report that using a TT program for chronic conditions like diabetes poses challenges for some of the essential parts of the care process—communication between patient and clinician and scheduling.

Hucu.ai is HIPPA compliant telehealth application. Physicians can access their patients through multiple communication sources like secure video conferences, texting, and audio calls. They can share their images, reports, and other documents through secure cloud-based data storage, which can be accessed from anywhere.

Conclusion

Telehealth is a promising technology that could offer great benefits for older adults. However, technology has both its benefits and challenges. Most clinicians report that telehealth is ineffective for treating older patients and can be difficult for clinicians to use. While it may be tempting for clinicians to turn to telehealth as a response to the challenges of treating older patients, it is crucial to consider the benefits and challenges of the technology before making the switch.

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