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Telehealth Provides Access to Healthcare for Some of the Most Vulnerable Patients

By October 16, 2020 ACCESSIBILITY NEWS
Elderly woman uses Telehealth to meet with doctor

I think most people can agree that a benefit that has arisen during the pandemic is the rapid expansion of telehealth as a way to treat more patients. With the elderly being at the greatest risk, telehealth provides a way to seek diagnosis and treatment, provides access to more specialists, allows for remote patient monitoring and offers access to medical providers in a safe and convenient way.

Benefits of Telehealth for the Elderly

The goal of telehealth or telemedicine is to better serve some of our country’s most vulnerable populations. Those populations include individuals in rural areas, individuals who lack transportation, individuals with blindness or low vision and the elderly. Telehealth offers more accessibility to healthcare providers, is more inclusive for all populations, is more affordable, more convenient and allows for more frequent monitoring of a patient’s medical condition.

Telehealth is especially beneficial for the elderly who have access to the technology that they need as it is equivalent to their doctor making a house call without the physician having to physically travel to their patient’s homes.

As of 2020, roughly 60 million Americans are over the age of 65. Of that population, many individuals begin to experience low vision and have more difficulty with transportation. Telehealth provides a solution to bring quality healthcare and better access to more providers than ever before. By 2030 it is estimated that over 20 million seniors will have low vision or vision-impairing diseases. The ability to receive remote care from a physician offers accessibility to patients with low vision like never before.

What Kind of Care is Available Through Telehealth?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) here are some of the types of care you can receive during a telehealth visit:

  • General health care, like wellness visits
  • Prescriptions for medications
  • Dermatology (skincare)
  • Eye exams
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Mental health counseling
  • Urgent care conditions, such as sinusitis, back pain, urinary tract infections, common rashes, etc.

What Challenges Do We See in Telehealth?

  • Payment or reimbursement enforcement
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Limited access to proper technology or the internet
  • Lack of technical training and equipment for medical staff
  • Visits with different on-demand providers results in a lack of patient care continuity
  • Changing healthcare regulations and patient privacy laws to keep up with the rapid expansion of telehealth
  • The elderly that are not adept at using technology

As the number of seniors with low vision grows, how will we adapt telehealth and technology to offer healthcare accessibility to this vulnerable population? T-Base specializes in healthcare accessibility for individuals with blindness or low vision. They offer digital, website and healthcare document accessibility solutions. Click here to find out how.

Heather Gillman

Author Heather Gillman

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