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Telehealth Tips for Seniors

writtenByWritten by: Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

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reviewBy Reviewed by: Ken Cosby M.D.
Reviewer

Ken Cosby M.D.

Dr. Ken Cosby received his medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine (Washington, DC) and completed his research post-doc work at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health including the National Heart Lung Blood Institute and the National Cancer Institute.

July 6, 2021 Read Time - 5 minutes

Seniors and Telehealth

If there’s any such thing as an upside to the coronavirus pandemic, it would be the increase of telehealth access, especially for seniors. What is telehealth? How does it benefit seniors? Does Medicare cover it? 

Here’s what you should know about seniors and telehealth.

PlushCare connects patients with exceptional online doctors, and was just named one of the top startups of 2021 by Forbes. PlushCare doctors expertly treat urgent medical issues, ongoing conditions, and routine care.

You can book a same-day appointment with PlushCare here.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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What Is Telehealth?

In its broadest definition, telehealth refers to a variety of services that provide healthcare virtually. 

It includes, but is not limited to:

  • Remote patient monitoring: where connected devices, like blood pressure or blood sugar monitors, automatically forward patient information to a doctor without the patient needing to go into the office.
  • Store-and-forward information: this could include things like taking a picture of your rash and sending it to your doctor, or a radiologist and/or sending your x-rays to your doctor.
  • Telemedicine: sometimes used interchangeably with telehealth, refers to real-time interactions between patients and their doctor or between two doctors. Telemedicine usually involves video chats but could also include phone calls or other methods of real-time communication.
  • Mobile health, also known as mHealth: involves using personal devices like computers, tablets, or smartphones to help manage your health. mHealth can encompass everything from tracking your blood sugar, exercise, or food diary for communicating with your doctor via messaging or video appointments.

How Does Telehealth Work?

Telehealth uses secure platforms to help you communicate with your doctor. One popular use of telehealth is to have a video appointment with a doctor, saving you a trip to the office. You might provide your health information, medications, and symptoms through a website or app, or you may tell your doctor verbally during your appointment.

During your appointment, you’ll discuss your concerns with the doctor. The doctor may be able to diagnose your condition and electronically send a prescription to your local pharmacy. Or, they may set up lab work for you to complete, or suggest you see a doctor in person for further testing.

What Are the Benefits of Telehealth?

Telehealth has a number of benefits, including:

  • Convenience. Being able to have a doctor’s appointment from your own home is much more accessible than going to an appointment in person, especially if you don’t drive.
  • Cost. Telehealth appointments are often the same cost, and are sometimes even cheaper, than seeing a doctor in person.
  • Increased accessibility. Now you can get the attention and care you need, no matter how far away you are from a doctor, or how difficult it is for you to travel to appointments.
  • Reduced strain on caregivers. If you have a loved one helping care for you, they will have less stress since there will be less transportation involved. It’s also easier for them to follow up with your care if they can access it online.

Does Medicare Pay for Telehealth Visits?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare has expanded coverage for telehealth visits as of March 6, 2020. Some of this expanded coverage is likely to be permanent, while some may disappear as the threat from COVID decreases.

Medicare is covering telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits. You may still be responsible for a 20% copay; however, some health providers have been waiving that copay in certain situations.

Telehealth Services for Seniors

Some of the telehealth options that may be available for seniors include:

  • Managing chronic conditions like allergies, arthritis, diabetes, and more
  • Mental health services, especially for previously diagnosed conditions
  • Follow-ups after surgery or another health crisis
  • Common health issues that can be diagnosed based on symptoms alone, such as eye infections or urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Ophthalmology using video or pictures
  • Dermatology using pictures or video

When Should You See a Doctor in Person?

Not every condition can be treated virtually. If you suspect you have a broken bone, for example, you will need to get an x-ray. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, you should seek immediate in-person care. And if you aren’t comfortable using technology to communicate with your doctor for any reason, you should continue seeing your doctor in-person.

Telehealth Tips for Seniors

While telehealth is generally a good thing and should be safe, here are some tips to have the best – and safest – experience when using telehealth services:

  • Make sure the telehealth site you are visiting is reputable. Don’t trust sites that contact you out of the blue or offer deals on telehealth that seem too good to be true.
  • Check your insurance. While insurance companies often cover telehealth appointments for the same cost as in-person appointments, check your policy before assuming you’re covered.
  • Make sure your technology is ready. You should have a computer, tablet, or smartphone hooked up to a reliable broadband or cellphone connection. Be sure you understand how to use the website or mobile application that the telehealth company or your doctor’s office is using.
  • Practice good security. Make sure your internet connection is private and secure. Ask the doctor or telehealth company how they keep your information protected. If possible, go to a private area in your home during your appointment. Always create a secure password that is different from passwords you use on other websites.

Telehealth Resources

For more information specific to seniors and telehealth, check out:

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Get Telehealth Online

If you’re ready to try telehealth, PlushCare is here for you. Our licensed doctors can diagnose and treat a variety of conditions through a simple video or phone appointment.

To schedule an appointment, click here or call (888)798-0620 now.


Read More About Telehealth


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Using Telehealth to Expand Access to Essential Health Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Accessed on May 20, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/telehealth.html

Medicare. Telehealth. Accessed on May 20, 2021 at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth

Aging in Place. Telehealth and Seniors. Accessed on May 20, 2021 at https://aginginplace.org/telehealth-and-seniors/

AARP. A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Telemedicine. Accessed on May 20, 2021 at https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/how-telemedicine-works.html

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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