Even prior to the global pandemic of 2020, telehealth was gaining traction as a means for people to stay connected with their health care providers without having to leave their homes or senior living communities.
However, interest in and the use of telehealth services have surged, and more individuals of all ages are realizing the vast benefits and resources this modern option provides. Also known as telemedicine, patients have access to nurses and doctors who might be hard to reach via phone or in person.
Furthermore, senior and assisted living communities are also realizing just how convenient, affordable and timely clients can receive high-quality healthcare via video chats with their medical providers. Let’s explore more about the growing role of telemedicine and its perks for seniors aging in place, home health care providers and assisted living communities.
What Is Telemedicine & How Does It Work?
Telehealth is used as a broad term to describe any type of digital communication utilized by medical providers to make care assessments, diagnoses and to establish treatment plans from any distance. Licensed nurses, nurse practitioners and doctors offer assistance just as they would in most in-person appointments.
In essence, it’s a form of virtual healthcare that is simple to use. Telemedicine is available in several forms, making it easy for those aging in place to do so without moving into an assisted living community. That being said, this technology is also optimal for both home caregivers and those who currently live within senior living communities.
Popular Types of Telehealth Solutions
There are many varieties of telehealth options, but three are more common than the others: synchronous telehealth, asynchronous telehealth and remote patient monitoring.
Synchronous telehealth involves live video conferences with medical providers. All that is needed for a visit is Internet access and a computer, smartphone or tablet with a microphone. Patients will have two-way communication in real-time with their assigned nurse or doctor. Many tasks can be achieved through these video calls, including:
- Receiving a diagnosis,
- Getting refill authorizations,
- Managing long-term conditions,
- Discussing pre-op instructions,
- Visual examination of rashes or other superficial concerns.
Asynchronous telemedicine does not involve real-time interaction. Rather, health data is documented, stored and then forwarded to providers to review via a secure platform. This information can be shared among providers for efficient evaluation, diagnostics and treatment approaches.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring is often used for seniors aging in place or those with chronic health issues in senior living communities. This form of telehealth involves patients wearing sensors connected to a device that measures vital signs such as glucose levels, heart rate and blood pressure. Updates are transmitted wirelessly to care providers for monitoring purposes.
Related article: Top Criteria for Selecting the Best Telehealth Provider.
What Are The Advantages of Telehealth Nursing in Assisted Living?
More assisted living and senior living communities are finding telemedicine to be extremely useful for their residents and their care teams. These services are growing in use at an exorbitant pace for numerous reasons. These are some of the main advantages for seniors and their caregivers:
1. Better Management of Chronic Conditions
Assisted living facilities in both rural communities and large cities can enjoy high-quality care 24/7 with telemedicine without having to fight traffic or travel long distances for in-person visits. This is excellent for those managing long-term issues like COPD, diabetes and even mental health concerns such as depression. This direct communication leads to optimal care management more convenient.
2. Reduces Patient Risks & Trips to the Hospital
Not all senior living communities have doctors available 24/7, and telemedicine helps fill this gap. This means less risk to patients who might not get timely care otherwise. Telehealth helps patients avoid the physical risks and stress that accompany having to leave the facility and travel to see care givers personally at a clinic or hospital.
3. Saves Seniors Time & Money
There’s no need to sit for long periods in the office waiting for an appointment or spend time traveling when telemedicine is an option. Doctors save money overall, emergency room visits are avoided, and the cost of these telehealth are less than office visits in general.
Related article: Home Care & Hospice Growing Rapidly to Care for Aging ‘Baby Boomers’.
Finding Solutions for Elderly Patients and their Healthcare Providers
PatientCalls understands the benefits of empowering senior and caregivers and encourages people to take advantage of the peace of mind telemedicine in senior living communities can provide. As a HIPAA-compliant answering service, PatientCalls specializes in integrated healthcare services such as scheduling appointments and admin tasks for home care and Hospice providers. Contact PatientCalls today to learn more.