More Than Half Of Seniors Willing To Use Telehealth

Results from a recent survey suggest that seniors are more comfortable with telehealth than you might think, especially given their techno-phobic reputation.

As things stand, when seniors need off-hours care, telehealth consults are hardly the first thing that comes to their mind. Almost two-thirds of seniors responding to the survey reported that they’d go to the emergency department for an urgent care issue.

The survey, however, which was conducted by telehealth vendor America Well, found that more than 52% of seniors were prepared to try out telehealth consults. These seniors said that their top reasons for doing so included “faster service,” “time savings/convenience,” “cost savings” and “better access to health professionals.”

Their willingness to try video visits may be partly due to their growing experience with non-healthcare video calling, with 45% of Americans aged 65+ having participated in video calls, 25% using a mobile health app. Of those using health apps, 27% are using an app created by their health plan.

According to researchers, 73% of seniors responding to the survey said that getting faster healthcare service was a key driver in their willingness to use telehealth services. Meanwhile, 58% said saving time was a top motivator to try telehealth visits, followed by 54% who said saving money was a motivator and 53% who cited better access to providers.

Among the seniors who said they were prepared to use telehealth services, 84% said they’d use it for prescription renewals, and 67% said they would consider using video visits to manage chronic conditions.

All of this is not to say that there aren’t some meaningful obstacles to seniors adopting telehealth. In the report, American Well notes that while CMS has agreed to allow Medicare Advantage plans to reimburse for telehealth visits, the new option won’t be available until plan year 2020.

However, these results do suggest that supply and demand for telehealth are finally coming together. When Medicare Advantage plans begin reimbursing for such services, it seems that a plurality of physicians is likely to be interested in providing them.

According to a previous study released in April by American Well, 69% of the 800 physicians they surveyed reported that they were willing to conduct video visits. The study also concluded that three-fourths of U.S. hospitals were already running or planned to implement telehealth programs.

The physicians told American Well that their top reasons for offering video visits included increasing patient access to care, increasing their work/life balance, attracting/retaining new patients, improving patient outcomes and staying on the leading edge of medicine.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.