If you’re wondering how to use telehealth for yourself or an older loved one, you’re not alone. With the rapid development of comprehensive telehealth and digital health tools, seniors can take advantage of these unique services to have greater accessibility to their providers and personalized care.
Leveraging these resources allows individuals to get the help they need from any location with WiFi service. For those interested in learning more about how to use telehealth, its benefits and outcomes, we’ve broken down the basics of this new era of healthcare.
Why Choose Telehealth?
In the wake of a global pandemic, multiple trips outside the home put senior populations at greater risk. It’s recommended for older adults or those with compromised health that travel is limited to essential errands. This, combined with additional factors like limited mobility or lack of transportation, can make frequent doctor visits difficult to accommodate. Telehealth is one solution that allows patients to connect with providers from any location. It can also reduce patient costs, decrease hospitalizations and ultimately provide more personalized, attentive care.
Before you begin researching options, contact your healthcare provider to understand if they offer these accessible services. Even before the pandemic, 76 percent of hospitals provided telehealth as a part of their comprehensive approach to patient wellbeing and care. This has expanded even more since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Knowing the Right Time to Use Telehealth
While in-person visits will likely still be needed, telehealth services greatly complement an overall senior wellness plan. For example, use-cases for this technology can include, but are not limited to:
- Primary Care: Before going into a physical facility, seniors can check-in with a virtual doctor to discuss basic health concerns or needs.
- Transitional Care: Telehealth support can help manage new day-to-day necessities like medicine intake, stress management and diet planning.
- Chronic Illness Support: When managing and monitoring chronic disease or illness, these services can support in tracking health progression and using this data to assess further action.
By using a hybrid of both in-person and remote appointments, you can likely decrease the amount of overall hospital visits required in a year. According to a recent report, leveraging telehealth could eliminate up to 387,000 transports to ERs annually and 6.87 million transports to physician offices, ultimately saving the patient significant healthcare costs.
Overcoming the Fear of Going Digital
Learning how to use telehealth services can feel overwhelming if an individual isn’t quite comfortable with technology. Luckily, there are multiple avenues worth exploring that can be adjusted based on the individual patient. From mobile app-based assessments to video conferencing and standard phone calls, be sure to select the tool that fits naturally into the lifestyle of the individual it’s serving.
Benefits for the Caregiver
It’s important to recognize that these services don’t just benefit the patient. Research shows that caregivers who use telehealth services experience a, “significantly lower burden, higher stress mastery, and better family function[ing].” Providing care for someone you love can be fraught with emotions of stress, anxiety or frustration. In creating a lifeline through digital healthcare, you effectively increase your support system with additional expertise to rely on in times of need.
For additional tips and resources, refer to our blog post with self-care tips for caregivers.
Selecting the Right Telehealth Service
As mentioned earlier, the first step to finding the right telehealth solution is contacting your current provider. Many hospitals and physicians already infuse these services into their practice. Second, you’ll want to confirm with your insurance provider that your plan covers telehealth. Then do your research and find the right solution for your personal situation.