Telemedicine is a care management tool. It allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology. This is done through a virtual visit with your doctor via phone, tablet, or other computer software or devices.
Telemedicine offers many benefits including: increased patient access, reduced cost structures, faster information sharing, and other benefits, both tangible and intangible. As a caregiver, you may be wondering how you can take advantage of telemedicine for your aging loved one. Find out more about the benefits of utilizing telemedicine and how you can incorporate it into your care routine here.
Top Five Benefits of Telemedicine for Aging Adults
- Monitoring and Maintenance of Chronic Conditions: With advances in mobile phone apps and other devices that can monitor vital signs (including blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, etc.) physicians are able to receive real-time data about your health. This is very critical for chronic health conditions like diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and many others. Telemedicine creates the communication channels for this monitoring to occur.
- Providing Autonomy and Independence to Aging Adults: At-home health monitoring devices allow for aging adults to live independently at home. These devices are able to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, etc. and can send alerts to physicians and other emergency responders as needed. The alternative option is requiring either routine visits to the doctor’s office or more frequent visits from an at-home care professional.
- Reducing Transportation Difficulties: The frequency of going to the doctor for aging adults can vary greatly. Depending on the purpose of the visit, a check-in with your physician using telemedicine may be all that is needed. This will save time and stress of having to travel to-and-from the doctor’s office by having the visit in the comfort of your own home.
- Potential Reducing Healthcare Costs: Telemedicine has the possibility of reducing healthcare costs across the board by greatly increasing the prevalence of preventative medicine. Emergency care is often very costly, but if telemedicine can identify warning signs early then the general costs of healthcare may be reduced.
- Having 24/7 Coverage: The many tools of telemedicine can ultimately offer 24/7 coverage. What this means is that many service providers and telemedicine technology companies offer consultations around-the-clock. This is a great benefit for your aging parent if they have a question but it is not an emergency.
Is Telemedicine Covered by Medicare?
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers certain services, like office visits and consultations, that are provided:
- Using an interactive two-way telecommunications system (with real-time audio and video)
- By a doctor or certain other health care provider who isn’t at your location.
Now that you have a general understanding about telemedicine – discuss options and features with your physician to understand what will work for you and your aging loved one.