During the pandemic, the growth of telehealth has been, if you’ll pardon the pun, contagious. So much so that telemed, as it’s also known, will still be with us long after coronavirus becomes just a memory.
In Massachusetts, for example, Blue Cross Blue Shield has seen telemed grow from only about 200 claims a day before Covid-19, to about 30,000 a day this year. And in the year starting March, 2020, they processed some 7.5 million. The yearlong lockdown let telehealth demonstrate that it’s particularly good for two demographic groups – primary care providers and their older patients.
PCPs like the fact that telemed visits are shorter, often less than 15 minutes – not because patients get short shrift, but because telehealth eliminates wasted time. With routine PCP appointments, “[t]here are built-in inefficiencies that isn’t time spending with the person,” says Dr. Katherine Dallow, vp of clinical programs at Blue Shield Blue Cross of Massachusetts. “I probably spend somewhere between two to five minutes per patient moving from one room to another or pausing to document or checking something on their file or handing something off.” Telemed lets them organize their days more efficiently, something they also like.
Patients, particularly seniors, like being able to often get same-day appointments – and without spending more time in the car going to and from the doctor’s office than in an examining room.
Most routine physicals – for general examination, hypertension, insomnia, and lower back, abdominal or pelvic pain – are more verbal and visual than physical. “A lot of primary care is talking,” Dr. Dallow explained. “It’s meeting [patients] where they are, hearing their concerns.”
Plenty of inexpensive digital equipment for measuring weight, blood pressure, temperature, pulse and heart beat regularity is available, and many Medicare Advantage Plans give it or sell it at a discount to members. And for visual diagnosis, laptops, smartphones and tablets all have very good built-in cameras.
While telehealth may replace many in-person primary care visits, it will never totally supplant them. After all, what one senior might regard as a hassle could very well be another’s opportunity to get out of the house, go somewhere and make some social contact while seeing to their health.
It all comes down to the point that Senior Insights is built on: that everyone’s different, with different wants, needs and preferences.
That’s why, at Senior Insights, we focus on the person.
It’s why our initial three-part holistic needs assessment goes beyond superficial physical health to also look at mental health, functional and social abilities, cognitive health, and even a safety evaluation, to uncover important information that neither our clients nor their families may have known.
And why our monthly Registered Nurse assessments go way beyond just taking vital signs and are more like mini-needs assessments.
So why not contact us to learn more not just about getting the senior care you need, but getting it the way you want it?