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GUEST COLUMN: Telehealth – Healthcare Comes to You

With 10,000 people turning 65 every day, easy access to care is getting more and more difficult. Telehealth is the solution.

It’s a senior patient’s worst nightmare: being home alone when something doesn’t feel quite right. It could be nothing…but what if it isn’t?

Going to the emergency room is always an option, but an ER visit means waiting for hours, incurring major expense, and the possible risk of infectious disease exposure.

Luckily, there is a better way: telehealth. With telehealth, you have access to a medical professional within minutes in the comfort of your home, and it is covered by insurance.

Telehealth uses simple, modern technology – such as a computer, a smart phone, or even a device supplied by your medical provider – to deliver healthcare services in your home. Medical data can be sent directly to the physician while the patient’s health can also be monitored remotely when necessary. Set up is easy and can be completed prior to an emergent televisit.

Best of all, studies show that patients like telehealth. Not only does it lead to better management of chronic diseases, telehealth leads to less stress, which results in better healthcare. In one survey by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, patients said if they had not had access to a virtual visit, 40 percent would have forgone care to avoid traveling to a medical facility. This can lead to very poor health outcomes because catching problems early leads to better results. Interestingly, when a hospital admission is necessary, telehealth monitoring programs have been shown to reduce the rate of readmission up to 71 percent.

Caregivers also benefit from telehealth. Video conferences are available for patients’ offsite family members where they can ask questions of doctors and other care team members, as well as receive beneficial and necessary aftercare instructions in real time. Telehealth also means that caregivers do not have to take off work, and patients do not have to endure the discomfort of lengthy road trips simply to get the healthcare they need. Patients who live in rural communities also benefit from the time, money, and gas saved in traveling.

Telehealth saves medical resources. With our nation’s shortage of primary care and specialty providers (especially geriatricians who specialize in care for older adults, where getting an in-person clinic visit can take up to a year), telehealth helps medical providers and our medical system work more efficiently.

Telehealth helps patients save money, time, and inconvenience. Better health requires timely intervention. Telemonitoring can more effectively manage chronic conditions while emergent televisits for urgent issues can help keep you out of the hospital. With reduced admission rates, lower healthcare costs, plus increased patient and physician satisfaction, telehealth is a winning addition to healthcare in America.

Jeannie Lessly, M.D. is a board-certified geriatrician and the CEO of Doctor Jeannie Senior Care, which provides free equipment to seniors for televisits in their homes. For more information, call (615) 562-1411 or visit


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