Technology | 08.17.20
Many Older Adults Not Ready for Telehealth
Healio (08/03/20) Michael, Erin
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found many older adults were not prepared to transition to telehealth services during the pandemic. The researchers analyzed data from 4,525 Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older. They assessed subjects' readiness for telehealth in terms of video visits; video visits for those with social supporters, assuming supporters were telehealth-ready; phone visits with disability criteria limited to difficulty speaking, difficulty communicating, or dementia; and phone visits, assuming they had telehealth-ready social supporters. The investigators estimated that in 2018, 13 million older adults — 38% of all U.S. seniors — were not ready to engage in telehealth visits mainly because of inexperience with technology. When considering social supports for seniors who could set up video visits, 32% were still unready. Moreover, 20% of older adults were not ready to engage in phone visits due to difficulty hearing, communicating, or dementia. "An equitable health system should recognize that, for some . . . in-person visits are already difficult and telemedicine may be impossible," the researchers concluded. "For these patients, clinics and geriatric models of care such as home visits are essential."
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