Telehealth utilization for senior citizens is on an upward trend as we see better coverage, lower costs, more benefits, and positive results.
Telehealth has been around since the 60s and since then has become a more widely accepted way to receive quality healthcare. Long gone are the days of scheduling a doctor’s appointment days or even weeks out. Driving to your appointment and waiting for extended periods of time and risking exposure is a thing of the past. Seniors are able to stay home and not have to wait in a waiting room with other sick people. They can feel safe.
Unlike traditional doctor’s office visits, with telehealth, you simply request a visit that can be conducted from the comfort of your home. You may choose whether to speak with a doctor over the phone or over video, depending on your condition and your device. You can use a mobile app to request a consultation, or simply use a landline phone, which is a benefit for seniors who may not have access to a smart phone or mobile device. Also, instead of waiting days or weeks, a visit can usually be scheduled the same day, sometimes within minutes, giving the ability to avoid making a trip to the doctors. “Many older Americans can benefit from being able to get care through telehealth without long trips to their doctor’s office,” said Alison Bryant, PhD, senior vice president of research for AARP. “Telehealth allows people to schedule health-related appointments, request prescription refills, and link to health care providers when time or distance is a barrier. It can also support family caregivers who are taking care of their loved ones.” One company, Capital Health Care Network out of Dayton, Ohio has begun adding telemedicine services for their nursing home patients. They have been using telehealth services “across their continuum to help seniors stay out of the hospital, recover quickly, return home safely and remain home with increased confidence and peace of mind.”
Access to telehealth for seniors, however, has been somewhat limited as far as cost goes. There are, however, other options to pay for telehealth. One company, National Telemed Solutions, does not require insurance and will cover your entire household for one small monthly cost or low annual fee. The monthly or annual fee for a membership covers every session, with no per call fees. Physicians, dermatologists, counselors and psychologists are available 24/7. Once you are on a call with a provider, they will treat it as a traditional doctor’s appointment, even prescribing medication when necessary.
Of all the conditions that may be treated through telehealth, it seems as if counseling and psychology have been the most trending since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to stay home while a patient speaks with a professional has made it easier and more comfortable. Therapists and counselors are available to talk about many mental health needs such as anxiety and depression, addiction, anger management, grief and loss, relationships, PTSD, and more. According to an article by In Touch Health, this field is projected to lessen isolation-related depression in seniors. Counseling is also available through a National Telemed Solutions membership.
All of this may be beneficial, but depending on your plan, it may not cover all of the costs that incur when it comes to maintaining a disease or illness. You may or may not be required to pay for the actual telehealth visit, but all the costs associated with it such as prescriptions, x-rays, diabetic supplies and vision and hearing supplies, begin to add up. Some telehealth providers may help with costs in one way or another. The company National Telemed Solutions helps to reduce these expenses by offering a health benefits bundle, included in your membership cost. You can get network pricing of up to 70% on many medical supplies and prescriptions, including dental and vision.
Telehealth is a great way to help seniors remain independent and learn or relearn self management. Another component National Telemed Solutions includes is a concierge service that gives you direct access to professionals and experts who are available to help with certain life decisions and obstacles such as legal and financial services, medical bill negotiation, caregiver and eldercare services, relocation, debt management, wills and trusts, and retirement planning. The ability to monitor their own lives and health will help seniors continue to live normal, self-sufficient lives.
The data shows that telehealth utilization for the senior community is quickly rising and becoming more beneficial. If we can just push past the obstacles of coverage, cost and trust, we should continue to see these numbers progress. Reduced travel, reduced in person and potentially unsafe visits, reduced hospital visits, ongoing support and easy monitoring, reduced out-of-pocket costs, and increased quality of life are all excellent reasons for seniors to get on-board with telehealth. “Historically, relationships between older adults and their providers have been established and maintained through face-to-face office visits,” said Preeti Malani, MD, the University of Michigan’s poll director. “Yet, advances in telehealth technology and older adults’ greater comfort and experience with technology in everyday life are changing this paradigm.”
For more information on National Telemed Solutions, please visit https://www.nationaltelemedsolutions.com/. Use promo code NTBS42 to register.
Stockdale, Lisa. Telemedicine Is Transforming Senior Care. Miami Valley Newspapers. Page 5. 17 September 2020.