For those under 50 years old, using mobile technology is second nature and often the preferred method of communication and interaction for younger generations. Socializing, viewing content, and even activities such as banking are all regularly done via mobile devices. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there was little concern that younger patients would struggle using mobile technology for virtual care. But what about seniors? For many, the first instinct is to assume that seniors would struggle to adapt to technology, especially as it relates to telemedicine.
According to a recent survey, 61 percent of Medicare-eligible seniors feel they have embraced technology more during the pandemic, with nearly half of correspondents reporting they have even begun binge-watching shows. In fact, a staggering 89 percent of those seniors reported having a smartphone, with only 11 percent using a smart mobile device only as a result of the pandemic.
I bet you didn’t expect that! When we think of mobile technology, we have an inherent tendency to discount seniors, but...
How Are Seniors Adapting to Mobile Telemedicine?
“But will my older patients be able or willing to download an app to see their doctor?”
This is a great question and one that we’re asked regularly by medical practices. By now, most practices realize there is no putting telemedicine back in the box, but concern still lingers about how to care for their senior patients virtually.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. Of the nearly 130,000 patients over the age of 60 invited by their practice to use pMD, more than 75 percent have successfully downloaded and accessed the app on their phone or tablet. Of course, we have a secure backup option using the web for those patients who do not have access to or feel uncomfortable installing a mobile app, but overall, seniors have proven to have strongly embraced mobile for telemedicine.
With telemedicine, the quality of the audio and visual directly impacts the quality of the care. Mobile devices today are built for just this type of communication with the highest quality, most reliable cameras and speakers. This is especially important for senior patients with poor hearing and/or sight. These devices also work on both wifi and cellular service, doubling the chances of having a clear, effective telehealth visit.
Support for Seniors is Key
There’s no sugar coating it, seniors are at a much higher risk when leaving their homes during the current health crisis.
“My husband has severe heart and lung issues,” says Jan, the wife of a patient using pMD for virtual visits. “If he gets this bug it will be fatal, so we feel much relieved to be able to talk to and see the doctor without the challenges of getting him out of the house and lifting the wheelchair as well as the exposure. What pMD does for us is literally helping to save my husband's life. This service [pMD] is such a blessing for us, ” continues Jan.
We’re living in a scary time right now, one that is filled with an immense amount of rapid change. If we just throw technology at people, especially seniors, to which mobile is not as intuitive, then of course you will be met with angst, confusion, and resistance. But, if we are able to provide adequate customer support to alleviate those stresses, you’ll find patients are much more open to using new technologies.
This is why at pMD we place a strong emphasis on providing unparalleled customer support to all of our users.
Sometimes we just need someone to walk us through it!