Technology and Telehealth for Older Americans

It took a while, but older adults are finally getting comfortable with technology. 

Many seniors adapted fairly well during the Covid 19 pandemic, many of whom learned how to use electronic devices to communicate with their physicians during this dreadful time. There is something about a crisis that can push human beings out of their comfort zone to try something new.

The dreadful pandemic forced seniors to stay in their homes requiring them to use technology if they wanted to reach out to their physicians. There is no way to hide the fact that older Americans love their physicians and can’t live without them. Therefore, if senior citizens wanted to keep their relationship with their doctor, they had to learn a new skill rather quickly to remain healthy. In a recent survey professionals reported that 91% of the respondents trusted their physicians, so they were determined to find a way to see them despite the orders to remain in their homes.

Older adults learned that through telehealth, they could meet with their physician electronically and their lives would change for the better. Telehealth allows seniors to stay safe in their homes, visit with their physicians and fulfill healthcare needs.

For the 55 million seniors who are 65 and older, telehealth allows older patients to have primary and specialty care and to have:

  • Peace of mind

  • Convenience

  • No transportation costs

  • Savings

Thankfully, physicians appreciate telehealth improvements as well. The American Medical Association President, Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. said,  “Physicians view telehealth as providing quality care for their patients. Policymakers and payers have come to the same conclusion. Patients will benefit immensely from the new era of improved assess to care.” According to an AMA survey, 85% percent of those surveyed currently use telehealth and 80% believe patients have greater access to care using telehealth.

Like the American Medical Association, American Senior Alliance believes it is crucial for the telehealth audio-only and telephone use option to remain to allow equitable assess. At the moment, telehealth audio only and telephone use coverage are permitted under a public health emergency. We are counting on Congress to make audio-only/telephone access permanent for Medicare patients.

As older Americans become more comfortable with technology, telehealth numbers will continue to improve making healthcare decisions easier for those 65 and older. A recent Pew Research survey found that 61% of those 65 and older own a smartphone in 2021 compared to only 11% in 2012. Those in the 50-64 age bracket who own a smartphone jumped from 34% in 2012 to 83% in 2021.

Another interesting statistic, the Pew survey found a significant jump in social media usage. Only 11% of those 65 and older used sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in 2010, but those numbers increased dramatically to 45% in 2021. The 50-64 age bracket had a significant increase in their social media usage growing from 37% in 2010 to 73% in 2021.

No question, older Americans continue lagging behind the younger population regarding tech usage, but seniors are getting more comfortable every year. As their knowledge and use increase, they will have more healthcare options available to them through telehealth. These options should make life a little easier.


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