News Briefs Archive

Telemedicine: What Your Older Patients Think of It

June 27, 2018

With mobility issues, and other challenges, making a trek to your office can be a hardship for older patients.

Tech-forward solutions, like telemedicine, are not typically thought of when it comes to elderly patients, but many are open to the idea, according to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which the Chicago Tribune reported on last week.

Nearly 9 in 10 adults ages 40 and over would be comfortable using at least one type of telemedicine for themselves or an aging loved one, according to the study, but the Tribune points out, “they want to make sure that an e-visit or other remote care is just as good as they’d get in person, and that their health information stays private.”

The question is how easy it will be for older patients to get remote-access care since Medicare may not always cover it: “While private insurance increasingly covers certain services such as a video visit, seniors have had a harder time because Medicare tightly restricts what it will pay for,” the Tribune reports, noting, however, that this may be changing, as Congress passed a law last winter that expands Medicare coverage for care such as video visits to diagnose stroke symptoms and check on home dialysis patients. In addition, Medicare Advantage programs used by a third of beneficiaries can start offering additional telehealth options.

As open as older patients are to telemedicine, there is one area of this new way of communicating with their doctor that still be out of many of their comfort zones. “Adults 40 and older are just as open to at least some forms of telemedicine as those under 40, with one exception: The older crowd is slightly less comfortable discussing health care by text.”

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