Many Clinicians View Telehealth as ‘Dangerous’ Option for Seniors

< 1 min
January 23, 2023
By Amy Novotney

Despite the growing telehealth use, especially during the pandemic, many doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers remain reluctant to use it when dealing with medical issues affecting older adults. A national survey of more than 7,000 providers provides insight into that reluctance.

Conducted by the West Health Institute in San Diego, the survey found more than 60% of clinicians believe the use of telehealth is “dangerous” for older adults because of their complex medical needs. And 63% of clinicians felt telehealth was unrealistic for many older adults because of physical or cognitive challenges.

Forty-seven percent of survey respondents reported using telehealth to serve older adults in long-term care or skilled nursing facilities and outpatient clinics; 33% for home-based care; and 14% at assisted/independent living facilities.

On a more positive note, 65% of respondents reported their telehealth program utilized at least one age-friendly practice, and 68% of clinicians say they “often” or “always” work to ensure seniors and their caregivers are prepared for and understand what to expect from a telehealth encounter.

“These findings tell us loud and clear that healthcare providers need better support, more education and specialized guidelines to provide effective and equitable telehealth to older patients,” said Liane Wardlow, PhD, senior director of Clinical Research and Telehealth at West Health.

The online survey was designed to help researchers understand how clinicians are using telehealth to care for older adults, as well as the perceived challenges and benefits of telehealth. Respondents included physicians, nurse practitioners, nursing professionals, physician assistants or therapists who served a patient population composed of at least 10% of older adults.

Full results were published in Telemedicine and E-Health.