Can I Use Telehealth to Monitor My Elderly Clients’ Chronic Conditions?
Yes, you can! This blog post will tell you why.
Telehealth and remote therapy options are becoming increasingly popular as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Seniors are among the most vulnerable people that could face fatal consequences of contracting the virus. Telehealth has been shown to be effective in managing chronic health conditions for elderly people while keeping them out of harm’s way. In this blog post, we show the research supporting and explaining how telehealth can be used to effectively manage chronic health conditions in elderly people.
A review by Guo & Albright (2018) examined 31 articles regarding the efficacy of telehealth in managing chronic conditions in elderly people. Chronic conditions included in the review included: chronic heart failure, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, obstructive pulmonary disease, overactive bladder, respiratory failure, diabetes, hypertension, depression, congestive heart failure, stroke, brain injury, and epilepsy. The telehealth technologies used in these interventions were: long-distance communication (LDC), web-based therapy (WBT), home-health monitoring systems (HHMS), and tele-education technology (TET). As a result of the study, researchers identified two key factors that facilitated the successful management of chronic conditions via telehealth management methods.
And what are these two key factors of success?
- Consistency – As a clinical provider, it is important to maintain consistent communication with your clients. Communication may look like phone calls, text message reminders, emails, video-conferencing meetings, and the delivery of management materials* via mail. The studies revealed that consistent communication between clinicians and patients was a necessity for successful chronic condition management. Not only was consistent communication key to preventing clients from dropping out of telehealth programs, but it also helped with clients with treatment adherence.
*management materials may include pamphlets, educational materials, printed cognitive activities, or other items that your client may use normally during in person sessions that are not available to them in their own home.
2. Patient’s Compliance – Some cultural groups may be more receptive to one method of telehealth management than others. One of the studies examined the effect of telehealth in older Hispanic populations with chronic heart failure. The study showed that telehealth intervention for this demographic had no significant effect for managing chronic heart failure. It is important to assess, identify, and utilize your client’s preferred communication method to ensure optimal adherence to the designated intervention(s).
Telehealth methods are a plausible way to help manage your client’s chronic condition. The two key factors that can impact the efficacy of telehealth management of chronic conditions are communication consistency and patient compliance. To ensure optimal results using telehealth management methods, it is advised that clinical providers communicate with their client consistently using an agreed-upon method of communication. Clinicians should inquire about their client’s preferred method of communication, and make necessary adjustments to provide comfortable communication between both themselves and their client.
Guo, Y., & Albright, D. (2018). The effectiveness of telehealth on self-management for older adults with a chronic condition: A comprehensive narrative review of the literature. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 24(6), 392-403.