Decades ago, it wasn’t unheard of to have your family doctor make a house call, visiting families at home to diagnose ailments or offer care. Today, you won’t find too many doctors making in-person visits to their patients in their own homes. However, technology has made it so that doctors can virtually make a house call.
How Telehealth and Can Help Seniors Stay Healthy
Enter the concept of telehealth (also referred to as telemedicine), which makes use of technology — including video conferencing, telephone calls, smartphone apps, email, and text messaging — to help improve patients’ access to healthcare, scaling back on the cost of that healthcare without sacrificing quality. Telehealth serves as an alternative to traditional healthcare in that patients don’t have to visit their doctor’s office or the emergency room in order to receive a diagnosis and treatment.
For seniors who live alone or who recently lost their driving privileges due to age or declining health, it may not always be easy to get a ride to a last-minute doctor’s appointment. For members of the Sandwich Generation — juggling caring for an older relative and children of their own — busy schedules can make it tough to take off work and make arrangements to get a parent, a child — or themselves — to the doctor, if needed.
Saving Time and Cost
One such platform for telehealth is GriswoldConnect Virtual Care. An extension of Griswold Home Care’s services, GriswoldConnect Virtual Care is a platform that makes it simple for seniors and their families to get the care they need without having to leave home.
Given the unfortunate trend of understaffing in the medical profession, it can be difficult for patients in need to receive care for treatable ailments in a timely manner. Simple, easy-to-diagnose conditions like bronchitis, pinkeye, or a UTI can worsen if left untreated or without a doctor to prescribe proper medication to help a person back on the road to good health.
And if you need to head to the emergency room to get timely treatment for a simple condition, that can pack a hefty punch to your pocketbook — even if you’re just going to get a prescription filled for a cough or to stop an infection. Additionally, it can cost money to take a day off of work to take a loved one to visit the doctor or to drive yourself.
One of the groups that stands to benefit the most from telehealth are seniors and their families. It may come as a surprise to some, but many seniors are quite tech savvy. According to the Pew Research Center, 6 out of 10 seniors use the internet regularly. Additionally, 27% of seniors have a smartphone — and if they don’t have one, chances are, they have a younger loved one who has access to this technology and will show them how to use it.
In an article featured in Time, the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that 41% of American households had ditched their landlines. However, that also means that 59% still used a landline — and many of those in this grouping of landline-exclusive households are adults aged 65 and older. Despite the abundance of older adults using the Internet and smartphones, a good many of seniors still rely on simple home telephones, which is why it’s important that telehealth services be accessible via a landline, too.
Telehealth: Helping Patients AND Care Teams
GriswoldConnect Virtual Care and other telehealth programs give people same-day access to licensed, board-certified doctors via phone or video conferencing. If you call to make an appointment, you will usually get a follow-up in minutes. These “virtual visits” are conducted like any in-person doctor visit. The only difference is, you’re being treated in your own home with a medical professional “seeing you” on the other side of a computer screen or on the other end of a phone call from either a landline or cellphone.
These programs allow people to receive treatment and written prescriptions for cold and flu, bronchitis, allergies, or other conditions. Additionally, these telehealth programs can be expensed through HSA, FSA, and HRA accounts. And since many of these accounts require users to “use it or lose it” with funds that can’t be rolled over into the next calendar year, a telehealth visit can be a helpful way to use these spending accounts.
Like many other telehealth programs, GriswoldConnect Virtual Care securely sends your medical records from your virtual visits to your primary care physician so he or she has an accurate log of illnesses you’ve been treated for.
Outside of basic care, telehealth is helpful to other medical professionals — including discharge planners and social workers who deal with patients with more serious disorders that have required a hospital stay or follow-up care.
Social workers and discharge planners must meet with patients and other personnel on a patient’s care team to make sure comprehensive plans are in place for a patient once they are discharged from the hospital. It can take time and resources to coordinate meetings of all personnel involved on a patient’s care team, and it can be difficult to get them all in the same space at the same time. This team may include doctors, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, family members, and the patient themselves.
Being able to use secure telehealth programs to “meet” virtually helps save time and money, as well as reduce the risk of a patient needing to be readmitted because of a flawed care plan after release from the hospital.
A service such as GriswoldConnect Virtual Care can “link up” all of these parties, as well as keep a person’s primary care provider informed of changes to their health and medical records.
Empowering Seniors to Take Control of Their Health
Given how many seniors are adopting technology or how many have adult children or teenage grandchildren who can show them how to use it, telehealth programs are a great way to encourage seniors to stay on top of their own well-being. Even if seniors do not have access to a computer or smartphone to actually “see” the health care professional they’re talking to, telehealth programs such as GriswoldConnect Virtual Care can be accessed with a landline phone.
Knowing that a doctor is on-call and able to make virtual house calls on an as-needed basis can offer them added peace of mind. Furthermore, access to telemedicine programs can help seniors stay healthier longer with the prompt care they need — when they need it — without having to depend on friends or family members to do so.
Do you think you or someone you love could benefit from access to a trusted telemedicine platform?