These days, patients can wait an hour or more in a physician’s office for a scheduled appointment. Older adults might resist going because they don’t want to be stuck sitting around waiting for the doctor.
Seniors who live in rural communities may put off going to their doctor because the drive is too long or because it means driving in traffic during the most congested times of day. Bad weather can also impact an older adult’s willingness to drive to a physician’s office.
These are just a few reasons why a senior might not be visiting their physician as often as they should.
Fortunately, technology is making it easier to access a physician. And that access can happen from the privacy of your own living room. It’s called a virtual physician visit, and here’s what seniors should know.
Advantages of Virtual Physician Visits
Why should you consider a virtual physician visit for yourself or a senior loved one? Here are a few of the advantages:
Convenience factor: There’s no doubt about it, virtual physician visits are just more convenient. This is especially true for seniors who have given up driving and those who live in a rural community without a physician’s office nearby. Easy-to-use technology allows the patient and physician to talk face-to-face from a distance.
No contact with sick people: Physician waiting rooms can be a source of germs, especially during cold and flu season. For an older adult with a chronic health condition, being exposed to those bugs can be dangerous. Virtual physician visits can prevent a senior from being subjected to harmful viruses.
More attention from the doctor: Patients who’ve utilized virtual visit options say they feel like they get more of their doctor’s attention. It may be that the physician has fewer distractions when they are connecting via video, allowing them to focus more fully on their patient.
No more waiting: If you feel like your physician is always running late, you aren’t alone. It can be stressful and aggravating to be stuck sitting in the waiting room for a long period of time. When you schedule a virtual physician visit, you do the waiting at home where you can watch television, read a book, or just relax.
Access to more physicians: Another advantage of a virtual physician visit is greater access to doctors. A senior who has a chronic health condition that requires a specialist might not have access to one nearby and may need to travel a great distance to see that doctor. A virtual visit can help bring the patient and the physician together more often.
Disadvantages of Virtual Physician Visits
While the benefits of virtual physician visits for seniors are numerous, there are a few disadvantages to know about. Here are a few factors to take in to consideration:
Technology requirements: What technology is required and how expensive is it? Also, ask the physician’s staff what happens if you run in to technical issues. Is someone available to help?
Internet access: While most urban communities have a variety of internet service providers, that might not be true for seniors in rural communities. Make sure you understand what is available and if it meets the virtual physician visit technology requirements.
Limited examination: Although virtual visits work well for minor conditions, they may not be helpful enough for more serious problems or for when lab work is needed. Also, some doctors may not feel comfortable making a definitive diagnosis without seeing the patient in person.
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