From McKnight’s Long-term Care News

Jan/Feb 2023

By Amy Novotney

Despite the growing telehealth use, especially during the pandemic, many doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers remain reluctant to use it when dealing with medical issues affecting older adults. A national survey of more than 7000 providers provides insight into that reluctance. 

Conducted by the West Health Institute in San Diego, the survey found more than 60% of clinicians believe the use of telehealth is “dangerous” for older adults because of their complex medical needs.  And 63% of clinicians felt telehealth was unrealistic for many older adults because of physical or cognitive challenges. 

47% of survey respondents reported using telehealth to serve older adults in long-term care or skilled nursing facilities and outpatient clinics; 33% for home-based care; and 14% in assisted or independent living facilities. 

 On a more positive note, 65% of respondents reported that their telehealth program utilized at least one age-friendly practice, and 68% of clinicians say they always work to ensure seniors and their caregivers are prepared for and understand what to expect from a telehealth encounter. 

“These findings tell us loud and clear that healthcare providers need better support, more education and specialized guidelines to provide effective and equitable telehealth to older patients,“ said Liane Wardlow, PhD, senior Director of clinical research and telehealth at West Health. 

The online survey was designed to help researchers understand how clinicians are using telehealth to care for older adults, as well as the perceived challenges and benefits of telehealth. Respondents included physicians, nurse practitioners, nursing professionals, physician assistants or therapists who served a patient population composed of at least 10% of older adults. 

Full results were published in Telemedicine and E-health.


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