As the number of COVID-19 cases increases and social distancing measures remain, telehealth is making an integral contribution to healthcare. You could even say it has become a lifesaver.
A great way to reduce coronavirus spread and promote social distancing, telehealth enables stable patients to stay home while communicating with healthcare providers and receiving virtual medical care. It includes everything from making online appointments to conducting primary care visits through video chat – and is being adopted with greater frequency than ever.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “leveraging telemedicine whenever possible is the best way to protect patients and staff from COVID-19.”
Clearly, telehealth is an important tool that helps protect healthcare professionals and patients alike during these times. Yet even before the recent surge, telehealth visits were changing healthcare relationships for the better.
A January 2019 study published in The American Journal of Managed Care found that telehealth visits provide numerous benefits, including convenience for both the patients and healthcare providers.
The study concluded that virtual visits rated high among most patients, with most saying they would recommend telehealth appointments to family and friends. Patients also said it saved them the time it would take to visit to and from an appointment. Most patients and physicians said communication wasn’t lost through virtual visits.
For healthcare professionals, video visits are more efficient than in-office appointments, allowing them to see more patients each day. Telehealth also gives practices the option to extend hours without staffing an office. And recently, it has allowed healthcare professionals quarantined because of COVID-19 to treat patients remotely.
of care options have evolved quickly over the last decade, as more patients have
become comfortable with remote care and connected health services. And while
it’s often assumed that younger generations are more eager to adapt to the
changing healthcare landscape, services enabled by technology are being adopted
by all generations – but often for different reasons.
The Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers
estimated that by 2020, roughly 40
percent of the U.S. population will be over 50.
in the older generations are typically associated with an aversion to
technology, assumed to value in-office engagements with medical providers and
clinging to antiquated methods of treatment.
older generations grew up in a face-to-face generation where doctors regularly
made house calls, that doesn’t mean they balk at connected health services. In
fact, Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation (those that grew up in the
Depression era) are more digitally connected than ever and benefit from remote
visits too. Many don’t realize that Boomers have been using technology since
PCs were introduced in the workplace the early 1990’s, long before the launch
of today’s iPhones and Androids. And while modern technology may be relatively
new to the Greatest Generation, the group has shown to be the fastest-growing
adopters of smart phones.
neither group is digitally native, many welcome alternative care options such
as connected health. For one, a large portion of the nation’s $2.7 trillion in
annual healthcare expenditures are related to chronic disease, which afflicts
older patients more than younger ones. Plus, connected health options are less
expensive than in-office visits. However, cost isn’t the only factor they
Boomers are still in the workforce and looking to balance the end of their
careers with caring of aging parents. Connected health can save money and time associated
with office visits. And those in the 75-85 age group – the Greatest Generation
– prefer not to travel to see a doctor post-surgery if they could use two-way video
or a phone call. This is coupled with the fact that transportation is the
biggest impediment to seeing doctors or following up post-surgery for extended
care for chronic illness.
challenges or disrupted routines are just a few of the barriers to getting a
patient proper care – and it’s costly. Of roughly 1.3
million hospital transfers from nursing homes each year, the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimate that 45 percent are
unnecessary. The introduction of remote care could be paramount, offering
patients a minimally disruptive alternative to receive necessary care that
would decrease long term issues.
Millennials and Generation Zers
currently make up a quarter of the country, and Gen Zers are coming up quickly
behind them. While the younger set may be less dependent on the healthcare
system now than their Baby Boomer and Greatest Generation precedents, it’s
becoming more apparent just how much influence they have on the industry.
spent their lives plugged into technology, millennials and Gen Zers are widely
referred to as the on-demand generations. They want immediate results in all
aspects of life and are driving huge strides in technological healthcare
advancements, including self-service options and remote delivery.
it should be no surprise that they often prefer
quick service retail clinics and acute care facilities and
are largely interested in connected health alternatives. For these generations,
it’s all about online access, immediate results and keeping costs low. Many of
them prefer urgent cares to primarily care physicians and see doctors most
often for acute issues or maternity care. In fact, a majority of millennial
respondents in a recent
Patient-Provider Relationship Study cited that making a visit
to the doctor’s office is a last resort.
Consumers of all ages increasingly
embrace technology-enabled healthcare options
short, today’s patient, regardless of age, is more engaged in their health care
and not just relying on their doctors’ orders. Nearly everyone takes to the
internet to try and figure out their ailments via search engine before heading
to a doctor’s office.
millennial and Gen Z patients may be leading the charge as connected health
patients, it’s possible that elder generations aren’t – and shouldn’t – be too
far behind. Based on their vast adoption of modern technologies, remote care
can be a useful tool in reducing unnecessary visits to a physician’s office and
may curb an emergency trip to the hospital as well. While it is still important
for patients to have some face time with their doctors, technology is creating
easily accessible and positive alternatives for all ages.