Perceptions and Uses of Telehealth in the Care of Older Adults

2 min
January 26, 2024
Understanding how physicians perceive advantages, challenges, and uses of telehealth and age-friendly practices in the care of older adults.

Clinicians identify challenges in using telehealth with older adults, yet they continue to use it at high rates. We conducted a nation-wide survey of US clinicians to assess the views and uses of telehealth for older adults (‡65 years old); as well as the perceived advantages and challenges of telehealth and use of age-friendly telehealth practices. Materials/Methods: We distributed an online survey (Wallin Opinion Research) to assess the use of telehealth and clinicians’ views on advantages/challenges of telehealth in care of older adults. Respondents were eligible if they were active US clinicians with self-attestation of patient population ‡10% older adults.

The survey was distributed through established professional networks. Eligible respondents received a gift card for participation, fulfilled by a third-party vendor. Survey participation was voluntary. Completion of the survey was considered consent to participate. The study was reviewed and determined exempt by the WCG’s IRB Affairs Department. SPSS Version-26 was used for descriptive statistics. Results: Approximately 13,300 surveys were distributed and there were 7,246 (55%) respondents. Over half (56%) respondents were licensed independent practitioners. The majority of respondents practiced geriatric medicine (22%) or primary care (9.7%). The most common use was in hospitals (53%), long-term care facilities (47%), and outpatient (47%) settings. The majority of respondents (55%) selected ‘‘telehealth improves healthcare for older adults by enhancing engagement between stakeholders’’ as a top advantage. Fewer primary care clinicians (47%) reported sufficient support in the use of telehealth, as compared with clinicians in geriatrics (62%) or other specialties (60%). A majority (65%) of respondents reported use one or more age-friendly practice (40% often; 25% always). Only 5% of respondents reported that their telehealth program never utilized age-friendly practices. Discussion and Conclusion: Clinicians use telehealth in care of older adults, across clinical roles, sites, and purposes. Our survey results suggest perceived advantages of telehealth outweigh challenges, in care of older adults. This highlights an opportunity for guidance and resources to optimizing telehealth with older adults.

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Liane Wardlow Headshot
Liane Wardlow
Senior Director, Clinical Research & Telehealth