Background: Telehealth is defined as the remote surveillance of patient's health to aid in timely intervention. Its efficacy in elderly patients is well documented; however age has been reported as a barrier for accepting the new technology.1
Innovation: Telehealth uses equipment to remotely monitor people's health in their own home, thus overcoming the challenge of distance and allowing timely care to be provided to patients while at home.A Primary Care Trust within South London has been providing telehealth services to elderly patients, with one or more long term condition including COPD and heart failure, for the past 14 months.
Evaluation: A cross sectional survey of elderly patients to explore their perception, concerns and general satisfaction with telehealth service via a 4 point likert scale questionnaire was conducted. Out of 34 patients included, 27 participated (response rate 79%) with average age in years (±SD) 71.1(±10.4). Overall, patients were very satisfied (weighted average 3.5 out of 4) with telehealth services. Patients didn't find the use of necessary equipment to be difficult (1.7) or unreliable (2.1) and they had no concerns about confidentiality (2.0) or the absence of direct contact with GP/Nurse during a telehealth consultation (1.8). Finally, since being on telehealth, patients' confidence in managing their own health increased from somewhat confident (2.0) to confident (3.1). One patient, in particular, commented that “Telehealth is very easy to use …. it is very reassuring to know that your health and well-being is kept updated by your nurse & GP.” Another added “I find it amazing that 3 little items can have such an impact on my health.”
Conclusions: Age doesn't seem to be a barrier for the adaption and use of Telehealth.