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  • Cameron Oglesby

How does telehealth compare to office visits? (The answer may surprise you.)

Let’s start with the obvious: For diagnosing a new illness, for treating an injury, for conducting lab tests, for removing staples or sutures, there’s no way telehealth can substitute for in-person, in-office care.

But that being said, research reported last December in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that for chronic conditions – including many which affect older adults – telehealth can be as good or better. This research analyzed 20 clinical trials comparing telehealth (AKA video teleconferencing) with in-person care. “In general,” according to lead researcher Jordan Albritton, “the evidence shows that using video teleconferencing in healthcare results in outcomes that are just as good and in some cases better than in-person care.”

Here are some reasons why:

· No need to drive, or be driven, to the doctor’s office. This makes life easier for older adults who need help with transportation.

· No risk of spreading or contracting infection while sitting in the waiting room.

· Family members can sit in on the visit, help provide information, ask questions, and note the doctor’s answers – even if they live hundreds of miles away.

· For chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, patients are already likely to have equipment like glucose testers and blood pressure cuffs. In fact, many Medicare Advantage Plans either give them to members for free or sell them at discounted prices.

· For patients recuperating from surgery, traveling to a doctor’s office can be uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. With telehealth, doctors can follow patients’ progress in the comfort of their own homes.

· Specialists can see patients in their home environments. “Up until now, the patient’s environment was really a black box,” said Keren Ladin, associate professor of occupational therapy and community health at Tufts University. “Whatever the patient said when they came into the office was accepted as truth.” But with telehealth, doctors can see patients’ homes and their meds and talk directly with caregivers. Allergists can identify clues to possible allergens. Neurologists and physical and occupational therapists can see and assess how well patients can navigate and take care of themselves at home. This, says Prof. Ladin, leads to “more holistic care.”

At Senior Insights, holistic care is our guiding principle. We work holistically, on the basis of all of a client’s individual physical, emotional, cognitive, psychosocial, and environmental needs – and how each interrelates with the others.

So please click here to contact us, to learn more about the difference between coordinated care based on individuals and care that’s just based on individual tasks.

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