Older adults struggle to connect in pandemic-driven telehealth boom

4 August 2020 (Last Updated August 4th, 2020 15:18)

Research from UC San Francisco (UCSF) has found that more than a third of US adults over 65 face potential difficulties seeing their doctor via telemedicine, which could be making it harder for them to access routine care during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overall the researchers estimated that 38% of all older Americans were not ready for video visits, and 72% of those 85 or older were not, primarily due to inexperience with technology, followed by physical disability. These difficulties were particularly pronounced for patients who were older, male, unmarried, Black or Hispanic, lived rurally, and had less education, lower income and poorer self-reported health, the researchers said.

UCSF clinical fellow in geriatrics Dr Kenneth Lam said: “Telemedicine is not inherently accessible, and mandating its use leaves many older adults without access to their medical care. We need further innovation in devices, services and policy to make sure older adults are not left behind during this migration.”