Guest Blog: Telehealth for Seniors: 7 Things You Need to Know
Telehealth is changing the way we visit the doctor, and how seniors experience long-term care. COVID-19 has made telehealth a necessity for seniors, both for regular doctor visits, and for those in long-term care. Patients are more likely to suffer from diabetes as they age, and studies have also shown that patients with underlying diabetes complications are at an especially high risk for contracting COVID-19.
By communicating with medical professionals over a video-conferencing tool – like Skype or Zoom – seniors and long-term care staff can avoid unnecessary trips that might expose patients to COVID-19. And although it’s still early days, many studies indicate that telehealth is good for both doctors and patients, even for complex issues like wound care.
Why have I heard so much about telehealth and telemedicine lately?
The 2020 CARES Act expanded Medicare coverage of telemedicine, in part to address the concerns of patients who It’s one of the measures taken to prevent unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.
Telehealth and telemedicine — What’s the difference?
These terms are often used interchangeably. Telehealth is the umbrella term, and telemedicine refers specifically to treatment provided remotely.
Can telehealth deliver the same level of wound care as an in-person doctor visits?
Multiple studies indicate that patients receive the same level of care using telemedicine. This is especially true of patients who add telehealth applications to their pre-existing doctor-patient relationships.
Do I need special equipment?
Everything you need is right there on your smartphone or desktop. In general, you need access to a secure internet connection and audio-visual communication. And in some cases, audio or text alone will suffice.
Who pays for my telehealth appointment?
Medicare covers telemedicine in the event of an established patient-doctor relationship. The CARES Act also has an amendment that allows Medicare to waive this requirement. Many private insurance plans cover telemedicine as well. And in good news all-around, advanced wound care can significantly lower the overall cost of care.
Is telehealth new?
Telehealth isn’t new, just recently expanded. You’ve probably used it without realizing it, via an online portal that your doctor office. It’s also been in use for years in rural areas, where many residents live too far from doctors to receive adequate health care from in-person doctor visits alone.
What are the advantages of telehealth?
Aside from wound care, telehealth can provide easier access to a wide spectrum of health services. Seniors in long-term care shouldn’t have to sacrifice their mental health needs in order to avoid exposure to COVID-19, and telehealth is helping more seniors access mental health professionals. Remote monitoring is advantageous to patients who need regular health monitoring, including those recovering from a stroke. Telehealth can also provide handy reminders to take medication.