Telehealth is an exciting new field that allows patients to see healthcare professionals on their own schedule and without having to physically go to a doctor’s office. This is convenient for many patients but perhaps even more so for senior citizens. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages for senior living providers looking to implement usage of this new and expanding technology.
A major benefit to telehealth solutions for seniors is that it removes the need to be transported to a hospital or doctor’s office. Many seniors live with restricted movement, making it difficult or even impossible for them to go see a doctor. Because they often must take it slow, physically going to the doctor can be more time-consuming than it already is normally. This ties up senior living assistants and prevents them from performing other duties or helping other patients.
Getting a senior citizen to a nearby doctor’s office is difficult enough, but specialists are often much farther away. Many rural areas don’t have much in the way of healthcare access at all. With online doctors, however, patients have the ability to see specialists who may be able to better diagnose and treat a condition. This allows seniors to access better care more quickly, which can not only improve quality of life but prevent prolonged suffering that often occurs until a doctor can see them in-person.
Many senior citizens are on limited incomes, as are the providers who care for them. Online doctor visits are often cheaper than in-person visits. Telemedicine appointments are often less than a hundred dollars before insurance, while in-person visits usually cost more. This is because of lower overhead costs and the more efficient scheduling telemedicine offers. More insurance companies are beginning to cover online doctor visits as well, which increases their affordability for senior patients even further.
Telehealth allows for easy tracking of individual patients’ medical history. Providers can access digital information of when patients have had appointments, what medications they have been prescribed and what treatment options have been pursued. This information being available digitally helps providers continue with a client’s care even when their senior living assistants turn over. This allows senior living employees to provide better care and avoid making serious mistakes in looking after the needs of their clients.
Because these visits are easier to have, they help keep patients engaged in their own healthcare. This is critically important for maintaining health long-term and seeking early care before a problem becomes serious. Patients can be reminded via notifications on their mobile devices when they are due for an appointment and can review their health history. This knowledge allows them to make better decisions about their healthcare. For patients unable to make these decisions, telemedicine can keep their caregivers more engaged in their clients’ health.
The main disadvantage of online doctor visits is that a doctor is unable to physically examine a patient. This can make it more difficult for the doctor to diagnose a condition or more likely that an issue will be misdiagnosed in certain situations. Fortunately, this is not usually a problem because the majority of any physical examination can be done via video conferencing. The only thing a doctor is unable to do is physically touch a patient’s body.
Online doctor visits are not ideal for treating certain conditions. Do understand that while there are many times when a patient seeing a doctor online is beneficial, there are other occasions where it may just be a waste of time. Addiction care, for example, is something doctors have cautioned is better performed in-person. Treatments for serious conditions such as cancer cannot be done over video either.
Online medicine has major advantages for both senior citizens and their care providers. Many medical practices are incorporating it into the services they provide, and senior living providers should strongly consider doing the same in order to provide their clients with cutting edge care. It is a subject that should be discussed with clients so they can understand both the advantages and disadvantages of using this groundbreaking new form of medicine.