The COVID-19 virus has altered the way our country provides medical care. With in-office visits strictly limited, virtual tours have taken center stage.
When looking at telemedicine, this can include both phone and video calls. The main advantage of these is that both doctor and patient are safe within their spaces, making the risk of contracting COVID-19 nonexistent.
Although there are numerous advantages to telemedicine, there is a steep learning curve with many older Americans. Top doctors at John Hopkins University offer some advice in their recent writings in Annals of Internal Medicine
One of the main concerns is, according to the U.S National Institutes of Health, nearly half of American’s over the age of 75, some type of difficulty with hearing.
One way to curb this is for patients to use headsets as this will drown out background noise and allow the patient to hear better. Those with difficulty hearing may not notice this issue until they are forced into a situation that relies on their discussion.
For patients with hearing problems, video calls would allow the patient to pick up on visual cues and will additionally enable the doctor to examine the patient better to see what’s ailing them.
The unfortunate reality is that seniors may not have access to the internet, which will be a concern mostly with lower-income seniors. Physicians need to be conscious of this and ensure they ask their patients what type of care they prefer.
Many older American’s see a phone call as being a courtesy, so there will also need to be some adjustments and expectations set by the doctor that the phone or video call will still result in the patient receiving a bill.
Although telemedicine visits have begun to slow down due to doctor’s offices reopening in the past few months, telemedicine can still be beneficial to many seniors depending on their unique situations.