Reshaping telemedicine for older adults
While telemedicine may seem to offer the best of both worlds—access to health experts without having to leave home—every new technology has its growing pains.
As millions of Americans adopted telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults struggled to make effective use of it. Roughly 60% of telemedicine visits scheduled with older adults actually occurred by phone instead of video. Post-visit patient interviews point to challenges with accessibility, technical difficulties, and preference for the phone as a familiar technology.
Amy Franklin, PhD, leads an initiative to identify and address obstacles for older adults receiving care through telemedicine at McWilliams School of Biomedical Informatics.
“By correcting these issues, we can help older adults—especially those with mobility challenges—see their providers face to face without having to leave home,” she says.
With support from the Nancy and Clive Runnells Foundation, researchers will analyze clinic data to determine how telemedicine visits differ from in-person visits (e.g., length of visit, problems addressed, and scheduling issues). They will also determine what modifications—like expanded use of educational infographics—may increase their effectiveness.