Coviu’s CEO, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, states that telehealth is “the only way to scale our future healthcare needs in an increasingly ageing and digitally enabled population”.
There is mounting evidence that supports the effectiveness of telehealth for aged care, particularly when used in a hybrid care model. This is when patients attend face to face sessions as needed, but use video consultations for almost all other aspects of care such as postoperative checkups, outpatient rehabilitation, script renewal or referrals. Telehealth has seen success in aged care, achieving equal or better outcomes than that of face to face appointments, in aged care or palliative facilities, rural hospitals and in-home care environments.
Telehealth significantly reduces travel time, therefore reducing associated costs and stress on patients and carers, particularly for patients living in remote and rural areas. Travelling to the patient’s GP, Geriatrician or other specialist can take hours and is particularly labour intensive and expensive if the patient has bulky healthcare or assistive living devices. One study found that a rural Australian hospital, which was suffering from an insufficient caseload of elderly patients to justify the presence of a regular Geriatrician, saved roughly $131 per patient consultation by employing video consultations, as opposed to travelling a 312km round trip for face to face consults.
In addition, research papers continue to highlight the ability for telehealth to improve loneliness and social inclusion among older populations. Compiled results of 6 telehealth aged care academic studies revealed that patients who experienced daily telehealth consultations reported an increased sense of connection and lower levels of isolation. They also reported an increase in their social activities when compared to participants who receive the usual home care visits or phone calls.
Telehealth also reduces hospital readmissions and offers greater continuity of care to elderly patients, as they can continue relationships with the doctors and nurses that provided their initial surgery or care via video consultations. It improves access to healthcare professionals, reduces barriers such as travel time and difficulty, and decreases costs for all involved.
Confidence in telehealth as an effective accurate form of healthcare is growing. One study found that 90% of staff found video consultations similar to or better than face to face sessions, in terms of patient outcomes. So, if you have been thinking about telehealth for your practice, now is the time to take that first step. Change is coming.