2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly increased the need for telehealth services, while previously it was seen as a last resort option.

The main principles of telehealth, as provided by The HealthCare Alliance for Patient Safety are:

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The doctor-patient relationship should be at the center of telehealth services. Telehealth should be considered a tool to complement an existing doctor-patient relationship. Telehealth should prioritize health and safety as technology and innovation advance to meet the needs of patients.

Tips For Seniors

The first step for telehealth to be successful for seniors is to make sure the senior has a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a camera and an internet connection. This way, they are considered “video-capable.” The next step is to ensure the senior has the ability to use it. Video visits are preferred for the doctor to be able to do a visual assessment of the patient. 

However, having access and knowledge to technology for video telehealth visits isn’t the only challenge. Many patients have hearing or sight problems, or even dementia, which can impair the use of telehealth. This means, having a family member or caregiver present during a telehealth appointment can be critical.

The Future of Telehealth

Many experts predict the popularity of telehealth will only rise in 2021.

It is even predicted that telehealth is moving away from one-off treatment to more chronic management, like RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring). As described by Remote Patient Monitoring is:

A technology to enable monitoring of patients outside of conventional clinical settings, such as in the home or in a remote area, which may increase access to care and decrease healthcare delivery costs.

Incorporating RPM in chronic-disease management may significantly improve an individual’s quality of life, by allowing patients to maintain independence, prevent complications, and to minimize personal costs. RPM facilitates these goals by delivering care through telecommunications. This form of patient monitoring can be particularly important when patients are managing complex self-care processes such as home hemodialysis. Key features of RPM, like remote monitoring and trend analysis of physiological parameters, enable early detection of deterioration; thereby reducing emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and the duration of hospital stays.

Healthcare is constantly evolving and bringing new tools, practices and solutions to address the needs of patients. Telehealth is just the latest, and is headed in a more prominent direction. Keep a lookout of where it will go!