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Internal Medicine
Journal Scan

Study: 13M older adults are not prepared for telemedicine visits

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As telemedicine visits continue to gain traction in the United States as a result of the pandemic, a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine sought to estimate how many older adults may not be ready to make the switch to telemedicine for various reasons.

A cross-sectional study of 4525 community-dwelling adults using 2018 data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study found that in 2018, 38% were not ready for video visits mostly due to inexperience with technology. Assuming participants had social support to help set up video calls, the estimated percent of older adults still unready for video calls was 32%.

In addition, because of hearing issues, difficulty communicating, or dementia, 20% of older patients were unready for telephone-focused visits.

“Older adults account for 25% of physician office visits in the United States and often have multiple morbidities and disabilities. Thirteen million older adults may have trouble accessing telemedical services; a disproportionate number of those may be among the already disadvantaged,” the authors wrote. “Policies should recognize and bridge this digital divide.”

Reference
Lam K, Lu AD, Shi Y, Covinsky KE. Assessing telemedicine unreadiness among older adults in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 03, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.2671.

 

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