What age group uses telehealth the most? Statistics by the CDC have revealed that telehealth has grown particularly commonplace among the elderly. According to findings by the national agency, citizens aged 65+ record the highest telehealth utilization rate at slightly over 43%. This may be down to the rise in the risk of chronic illness that naturally comes with aging. Using telemedicine for aged citizens has become of extreme convenience and necessity in recent times. Today, we’ll discuss in great detail just how telemedicine is helping seniors cope with care, particularly as pertains to health outcomes and expenses.
1. Reminders to ensure seniors don’t forget their pills
Did you know that over 55 in every 100 seniors have trouble keeping up with their pills? Medication non-compliance is rampant among the elderly, and this can compromise patient health outcomes in the following ways:
- Prolonged hospitalization
- Increased physician checkups
- Faster deterioration of illnesses
- Aggravation of symptoms, etc.
These consequences don’t just affect quality care, they also increase expenses for the patient.
Telemedicine gets around them by ensuring better medication adherence through alerts and reminders. For example, with our telemedicine solution at Aura Health, patients can get reminders via text concerning their medication, in addition to tips about proper nutrition and exercise. Physicians meanwhile can oversee adherence by regularly checking in on patients virtually.
2. Doing away with unnecessary care visits
For the elderly managing a chronic condition or two requires consistent trips to the physician’s office. A report by AARP put this into perspective, uncovering that seniors have to visit their doctors 200% more times compared to middle-aged individuals.
These visits are necessary for physicians to check up on several things, including the patient’s:
- Mental well being
- Progress tracking
- Treatment feedback
- Vitals & other health parameters
The great thing about telemedicine is that care providers can be able to track all these metrics and then some, remotely. Augmented with remote patient monitoring technology, physicians can set and keep tabs on numerous health parameters in real time without the patient having to come in frequently.
Even in cases of chronic ailment where extended periods of monitoring may be required, telemedicine enables the provision of care and monitoring from a distance.
3. Minimizing transport expenses for seniors
In the same breath, the reduction of unnecessary visits, thanks to virtual care telemedicine, also provides economic relief for the elderly in terms of transportation costs. Seniors can access quality care remotely from their homes, without having to visit the physician’s office often.
While telemedicine doesn’t completely cut out in-person appointments or visits, it certainly goes a long way to reduce the number of trips necessary and thus ensuring more expense-saving benefits.
Beyond cost, telemedicine also helps to remedy other transportation challenges such as:
- Traveling long distances
- Poor road infrastructure (particularly in rural areas)
- Overcrowded transport mechanisms & more
It’s worth noting that one study showed that telemedicine saved patients up to 5,000,000 miles in travel efforts.
4. Reducing admission expenses for the elderly
Older adults stand at increased risk of hospitalization, with congestive heart failure more often than not to blame. Moreover, 17 out of 100 seniors in America are hospitalized at least once annually due to chronic illnesses, among other concerns.
If we crunch the numbers, keeping in mind that the average hospital stay costs north of $2,800, then this becomes quite expensive if a senior has to spend at least 4 days in admission (this being the typical stay duration per patient in America.)
With telemedicine in the equation, seniors will certainly up end spending way less time in admission due to better connectivity with their physicians and a more proactive approach to the management of their health conditions.
Overall, telemedicine has the power to lower:
- Stay duration
- The number of rehospitalizations
- The likelihood of initial care facility admission
The short of it is that elderly patients can enjoy a lighter economic burden as far as expenses related to admissions/readmissions go.
5. Better caregiver coordination to improve chronic care outcomes
Chronic care management requires the concerted efforts of physicians, at-home-care givers, and patients alike. For the most part, there’s usually a disconnect when it comes to physician-caregiver collaboration, which has traditionally been hindered by:
- Poor or unclear communication
- Data barriers
- Limited resources
- Strained workflows & more
Telemedicine offers a more holistic fix to the situation. Due to caregiver-accessible portals (usually a website), caregivers can get ready access to the patient’s data and treatment/medication guidance. Even in the case of unqualified caregivers such as family members, convenient telemedicine solutions with a smooth learning curve can streamline coordination to improve the quality of care.
With telemedicine also boosting productivity and reducing the clinical workload burden, coordination stands to improve even further.
6. Telemedicine ensures timely, round-the-clock intervention
Our telemedicine solutions keep physicians connected to their patient’s health data better than ever before. Real-time, AI-driven big data analytics make it simple for physicians to set parameters and get alerts when values veer out of range.
Ultimately, this extends care well beyond the physical establishment of the hospital, thus sealing a loophole that has long prevented full-cycle care: post-admission care. Whenever a senior’s vitals stray amiss, the physician gets a prompt notification. The early signs of deterioration are therefore easier to spot, and thus the hospital can provide medical interventions as soon as they are needed.
What’s more, they can do so via the communication features of telemedicine, some of which include audio, text, and video call features to quickly get in touch with the patient or caregiver at any time of day.
Making telehealth work among the elderly
While aged citizens stand to benefit the most from telemedicine, it’s not always the case that things work out between both. The single most important aspect to set things right starts with your choice of technology. New technology can understandably be intimidating for older patients. In fact, you’d be surprised at how many older adults have no experience with basic video conferencing tools. So you want to prioritize user-friendly technology, advisably one that has some sort of patient portal that the elderly or their caregivers can instantly start using without third-party service registration or installing supplementary software. For such solutions, be sure to call us to learn more about our telemedicine program.