6 challenges for patients using telehealth

Despite a boost in the use of telemedicine during the pandemic, use of the technology still presents challenges, The New York Times reported Dec. 11.

Six issues linked to the use of telehealth:

  1. Many medical issues are best assessed through in-person consultations. Joint pain or cholesterol monitoring, for instance, require hands-on treatment and evaluation.
  2. It is unclear whether telehealth is more prone to fraud than in-person visits. Just this month, a man was convicted in a multimillion dollar telehealth fraud scheme.
  3. Experts are also unsure whether telehealth appointments are always necessary, and if they potentially boost unnecessary Medicare spending. 
  4. Many older Americans are not tech savvy and struggle to use telehealth platforms. Over one-third of adults over 65 never used video to talk to others during the pandemic, and one quarter of Medicare beneficiaries over 75 do not have internet access.
  5. Telemedicine use is also not equal. Black and rural Medicare beneficiaries use telehealth less often than urban and white people. Those living alone and with lower educational levels also use telehealth less. 
  6. The platforms that telehealth are built upon aren't always user-friendly, especially for older patients. "Telehealth" also may sound too cold and technical for older patients. One expert suggested referring to telehealth as an "electronic house call" to make it sound more appealing.

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