Ever since the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation, our lives have changed drastically. Words and phrases like “social distancing” have gone from unknown to everyday vocabulary. This situation has changed the way we shop, travel, and interact with others.
Even though the reasoning behind these changes is significant, some of the changes themselves have proven to make life easier. They may even become a permanent fixture as we move forward. One such change is telehealth—the combination of technology and healthcare.
Telehealth has been available for years, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has boomed in popularity. A recent survey showed that out of 2,000 adults, 42% have utilized telehealth services since the pandemic began.
Here at HarborChase Senior Living, we celebrate life, health, and senior living. Let’s take a look at what telehealth is and how it can be beneficial, especially to older adults, and those residing in assisted living facilities.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is defined as any health-related service that is delivered through digital technologies. This includes provider care, patient education, self-monitoring, and other health or medical services. When people think of telehealth, many picture teleconferencing with a physician remotely; while this is one aspect of it, other telehealth services extend beyond remote care.
Virtual visits are typically what comes to mind when thinking of telehealth services. These visits feature a live, two-way conversation between an individual and their healthcare provider—usually done over video or phone call. These appointments can be valuable when you need to discuss something with your doctor but cannot go into the office.
Online Patient Portal
An online patient portal is a secure online tool that provides access to your medical history and information. These portals will typically house your medical records and test results, and summaries of previous visits. They will also give you the option to refill prescriptions or send private messages to your physician or nurse.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
Remote patient monitoring is a valuable method of quickly sharing health data with your physicians. It usually involves self-monitoring essential vitals (such as weight, heart rate, or blood glucose levels) through an app or a wearable device and sending them to your physician. RPM is a valuable tool in both monitoring chronic conditions and detecting new complications early.
Advantages of Telehealth
Telehealth services pose numerous benefits, especially to older adults and those with chronic conditions that need regular monitoring. The goal of telehealth is to make healthcare accessible for everyone—regardless of location, mobility, access to transportation or childcare, or any other factor. Here are some of the additional benefits of telehealth.
Eliminates the Need to Go to a Physical Office
This is the primary reason telehealth has become so desirable during COVID-19. Virtual appointments and other telehealth services allow individuals to stay home for their doctor’s visits, which is convenient and limits potential exposure to the coronavirus. This is especially important for vulnerable demographics, including those who are immunocompromised and older adults.
In addition to avoiding exposure, the advantages of receiving healthcare at home are endless. Telehealth provides convenient care to individuals:
- Without access to transportation
- With limited mobility
- Who cannot find childcare or eldercare
- Who live in rural areas
- Who cannot take time off work
Better Access to Specialists
For many, having to see a specialist requires scheduling appointments months in advance, traveling over an hour (depending on location), and sitting in the waiting area for just as long. The goal of telehealth services is to provide convenient access to medical specialists without this extreme time investment.
Telehealth also allows you to see specialists that may be more suited for your unique needs without having to worry where they are located.
Without the added challenges of physically going into the doctor’s office, healthcare becomes much more simple. Telehealth services allow you to schedule appointments whenever you need, communicate efficiently with your physician, and easily find your medical records to achieve better and more managed health.
Telehealth: The Future of Health
COVID-19 has contributed to many changes in the way we live our lives. Some of them, like telehealth, have proven to be so beneficial that they may become the new standard of how things will be done. Telehealth services have transformed the way healthcare is provided, and moving forward, we should expect to see this convenient service universally available.
HarborChase Senior Living, with assisted living facilities throughout the United States, believes in celebrating senior living. We encourage residents, and all individuals, to have regular communication with their physicians to ensure a healthy and successful life. We are excited to see how the future of healthcare will benefit our residents and beyond!
For more resources on health, senior care options, and more, we invite you to view our downloadable resources!