Telehealth - Covid and Beyond

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Hear this discussion from our Longevity Explorers — circles of older adults who meet monthly to explore solutions to the challenges that come with aging.

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from: Longevity Explorers | Virtual1

Discussion Summary

Telemedicine, a New Feature of Our Lives

Have you had the opportunity to use telemedicine? During the early period of sheltering in place due to the covid virus, telemedicine was often the only option for non-emergency medical care. Although telemedicine is by no means new, its rapid increase in deployment was due to the societal lock down during covid and its reimbursement by Medicare and other insurers. Many members of the Virtual1 Explorers Circle experienced online medical appointments which were discussed during their August Zoom meeting.

 

Telemedicine Acceptance

On the whole, reactions to telemedicine were quite positive. Among the benefits of video consultations were safety and convenience and the ability to access specialists not available locally. Negative features included shortened sessions and lack of depth in the interpersonal experience. Circle members felt effectiveness depended on the type of service being delivered. Telemedicine was far better for follow-up appointments than for diagnostic sessions. It did not seem appropriate for the types of service that require a hands-on examination by the doctor to evaluate patient symptoms. Telemedicine was also considered positive for mental health applications.

 

 Proactive Behaviors­­­­­­

Several members detailed how they became a proactive member of the telemedicine medical team; they filled out forms and evaluations, presented measurements of vital signs, such as temperature, blood pressure, or blood oxygen level, as well as, more specialized measurements related to a sleep apnea or blood clotting medication. The doctor received measurements either prior to their telemedicine appointment or as part of it. The Explorers considered what at-home equipment might be desirable to have on hand, and potentially, who should bear the cost of the equipment.

 

Further Considerations

As part of the discussion, Explorers allowed how the increased presence of technology, including robots and artificial intelligence applications such as Alexa, were likely to become part of the broader medical scene. There was concern that adequate internet service and cost would continue to affect this medical service for many.

 

Conclusions

The consensus of the group seemed to be that telemedicine, while mainly positive for older adults, is a work in progress; delivery is in its infancy, it is likely to be a continuing part of health care, and requires ongoing development and improvement to be effective.

 

 

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