Getting to and from physician appointments can be tough for seniors who have given up or limited their driving, especially those who reside in rural areas that lack public transportation. If adult children live far away or work during the day, the situation can be even more complicated. For some seniors, not having easy, affordable access to transportation is a barrier to obtaining regular, quality health care.
Virtual physician visits, sometimes known as telemedicine, might be a solution to explore. The technology has gotten better and easier to use. Medicare and many insurance companies even cover some e-visit expenses and telehealth services. If you are a senior or a family caregiver, here’s what you should know about connecting with a physician virtually.
Advantages of Virtual Doctor’s Appointments
- Fewer distractions for your physician: Doctors’ offices are very busy places, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most employers, physician offices struggle to maintain full staffing. Patients often say their doctor gets interrupted during the appointment, and that they don’t feel as if they have the physician’s full attention. When it comes to virtual appointments, however, some patients say they have found their doctor to be more attentive and focused.
- No sitting around waiting: If you’ve been to a physician’s office in the last few years, you’ve probably spent more time in the waiting room than you did in the exam room. It can be stressful and a little aggravating. When you schedule a virtual physician visit, your home becomes your waiting room. You can fold laundry, do the dishes, or just relax and read a book until the doctor comes on the screen.
- Safety from viruses: Another benefit of not being stuck in a waiting room is you avoid exposure to other patients’ germs. Infections and viruses can be hard for older adults, especially those with a weakened immune system, to fight off. Meeting with your physician online eliminates the risk of catching a bug in the doctor’s office.
- Access to specialists: Patients who have a chronic health condition or life-limiting illness often want a second opinion to make certain their treatment plan allows for the best possible outcome. Accessing specialists used to take a long time in many areas of the country, and was difficult to arrange for people in rural communities with fewer physicians. Through the magic of technology, a patient in Maine can now meet with a specialist in California without ever leaving home.
Is a Virtual Visit a Good Option for You or a Senior Family Member?
Before you schedule your first virtual appointment, there are a few questions to ask the staff at your physician’s office to make sure this option is a good fit:
- Is the technology easy to set up and use?
- Is the senior’s internet fast enough?
- If you run into problems, who is available to help?
- Will your senior loved one’s insurance or Medicare cover a virtual visit? If not, how much will it cost? Do virtual visits have co-pays if they are covered?
There is another option to consider when transportation becomes challenging for an older adult: a move to a senior living community.
Transportation Is a Popular Service at Heritage
One of the most popular services at Heritage Senior Communities is transportation. Community staff makes arrangements to get residents to and from physician appointments, shopping centers, and more. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!