Older Adults Have Mixed Feelings About Telehealth Visits

Only 4 percent of older adults have had a video-based telehealth visit in the past year

MONDAY, Oct. 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Many older adults are not quite ready to embrace telehealth, according to a new National Poll on Healthy Aging conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

The online survey was administered in May 2019 to a randomly selected, stratified group of older adults (aged 50 to 80 years; 2,256 individuals). The completion rate was 76 percent.

According to the survey results, only 4 percent of respondents reported having a telehealth visit in the previous year. Of those who had a telehealth visit, the experience was mixed, with 47 percent saying it was better than an in-person visit because of the convenience and 36 percent saying an in-person visit was better. Specifically, in-person visits were rated as higher quality, made respondents feel more cared for, and eased communications with the provider. The most commonly cited concerns about telehealth visits included not being able to do a physical exam, privacy, not feeling as connected to the provider, difficulty in using the technology, and difficulty seeing or hearing the provider. Approximately one in seven respondents (14 percent) said that their health care providers offered telehealth visits, while more than half (55 percent) did not know whether or not their provider offered telehealth visits.

“Providers shouldn’t assume older adults aren’t receptive to virtual visits, but they should understand and work to overcome some of the reasons for hesitation,” Preeti Malani, M.D., the poll’s director, said in a statement.

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