Why Does it Have to Be So Complicated?
Since the pandemic started, we have all become familiar with video calls and group platforms like zoom. Indeed, these video contacts, with all their limitations, have been a lifeline for many. It will never replace being with friends and family in person. But, it is far better to see and hear loved ones from a screen than not at all.
Aim for Success: Pointers from a Health IT Expert
We asked Destiny Westenskow, Senior System Analyst at the University of Utah Medical Center for guidance. Destiny has been hands on since the onset of the pandemic. She works daily to improve the telehealth experience for patients and health care providers. She deals with the needs of many medical specialties at this highly regarded medical care system.
3 Tips to Follow
Decide what device you plan to use. Call the clinic a few days before appointment to ask the best way to connect with your specific device. Destiny explains: “At the University of Utah, we have a recommended way to use a mobile device (tablet or phone) and use the MyChart app. We recommend this because we control the settings for A/V in the app and it’s a consistent experience. The biggest problem we have is patients have a huge range of the equipment and internet browsers and we cannot keep up on every variance.” Not sure exactly how to deal with this? Destiny recommends partnering with the support staff at your clinic. For example, she says “at Madsen Geriatric Clinic, the staff are proactively calling patients ahead of time. But it’s a good idea for patients to take the initiative and call the clinic” if they can.
- Good sound quality is critical. “The biggest complaint we hear is problems with sound quality. It’s best if the patient can use corded earphones, not bluetooth if possible.”
Destiny explains: “Speakers on a device are usually poor and older adults can be hard of hearing. If they use corded earphones they can hear the provider better because the buds are in their ears.”
“We caution against bluetooth earphones for a couple reasons. First, the connection can be spotty.” And second, a patient may forget or not realize that the device is connected to a pair of bluetooth earbuds. This can cause confusion and delay of care. “This happens a lot.” Use of corded earphones overrules the bluetooth pairing and eliminates this annoying error.
- Support matters. Destiny knows that getting used to telehealth visits can be difficult for many, especially if they are not feeling well or are intimidated by the process. “It is helpful if elderly adults can have someone nearby to help them get connected and be in reach during the visit. Patients can get distracted with the telehealth format or get frustrated with basic device navigation. If they get frustrated before the start of the visit, then it can be difficult to listen to all the information given or they may forget to ask important questions.”
Telehealth has taken some getting used to, for both patients and providers alike. It will never take the place of the in-person medical visit. But, for older adults, it can offer benefits during the pandemic. It keeps a person protected from community spread. It decreases the need for transportation. And, it offers the convenience of a service in your own home. Perhaps technology in the future will make it as easy as making a simple phone call.