Telehealth found to be less effective in older individuals

by | Dec 30, 2022

More than half of clinicians believe that telemedicine is a poor care choice for older populations, according to a recent poll by West Health and members of the Collaborative for Telehealth and Aging. This finding suggests potential for improvement. Research on telehealth’s clinical application for diverse illnesses and demographics is expanding along with the field’s recent growth and expansion. For instance, research published in October detailed how telehealth has increased access, eliminated health equity gaps, and demonstrated tremendous promise for use in the future among patients with mental health conditions.

A December survey revealed that chief financial officers in the healthcare industry said that telehealth has not improved the financial standing of rural clinics. Researchers from West Health set out to better understand the connection between this group and telehealth because older people frequently struggle with a variety of health concerns. The Researchers used an online poll to collect information about telehealth use and doctor opinions on its benefits and drawbacks for older people. 7,246 clinicians in total, 56% of whom were independent, licensed practitioners, answered to the poll. Primary care (9.7%) and geriatric medicine (22%) were the most prevalent specializations. The poll also revealed that hospitals, long-term care facilities, and outpatient settings were where telehealth was most frequently used (53%, 47%, and 47%, respectively). The use of telemedicine to treat older patients may have a number of drawbacks, according to respondents. People above a particular age cannot obtain effective care through telehealth, according to about 57% of primary care professionals, 59% of geriatric-only clinicians, and 61% of clinicians from other specialties. Additionally, 59 percent of physicians from other specialties, 61 percent of geriatric-only clinicians, and 57 percent of primary care clinicians said that telemedicine is an unfeasible choice due to the typical physical or cognitive difficulties experienced by older persons. Researchers came to the conclusion that employing telehealth to provide care for the elderly had many advantages.

Liane Wardlow, Ph.D., and a lead author of the study commented on the findings, stating: ”I was shocked that so many clinicians believe it’s not safe to use remote care with seniors who have complex medical histories or disabilities… telehealth infrastructures must be designed to account for these factors. The greatest danger of all would be to exclude older patients from remote care.”

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