Implementation Considerations for Telehealth Programs Serving Older Adults
Telehealth can be an important tool for ensuring that older adults living in rural communities can age
in place while still meeting their healthcare needs. For example, telehealth can facilitate the ability
of older adults to receive
care in their homes, help older adults adhere to their medication regimen, and connect caregivers of
older adults to support and advice.
Many rural communities are implementing telehealth programs for older adults in skilled nursing facilities in
order to decrease hospitalizations and increase access to care for older adults with complex healthcare needs.
of telehealth programs in skilled nursing facilities requires ensuring that
facility leadership support the telehealth program, training clinical staff to use telehealth
equipment, and integrating telehealth into existing policies and workflows. One approach to
facilitating implementation is to pilot new telehealth programs with a few high-utilizers of
healthcare services. These individuals can provide feedback on the process and allow clinical staff
to put their training into practice.
Engaging caregivers can be critical to the success of telehealth programs for older adults. Rural
telehealth programs may need to allocate funds to train both caregivers and patients about telehealth
technologies. For example, remote patient monitoring programs may need to engage caregivers to ensure
that devices are working correctly and transmitting the necessary data to telehealth program staff.
Rural communities may also consider using telehealth to ease caregiver burden. For example, the
training program in Oregon uses telehealth in order to increase engagement of rural caregivers of
patients with dementia.
When creating telehealth programs for older adults, rural communities may need to assess their target
population in order to understand and address concerns about telehealth. For example, while program
planners may assume that older adults will have reservations about using new technology, participants
may actually be most concerned about the privacy and security of their health information.
Resources to Learn More
Impact of After-Hours Telemedicine on
Hospitalizations in a Skilled Nursing Facility
Describes the impacts of an after-hours physician coverage via telehealth in a skilled nursing
Author(s): Chess, D., Whitman, J., Croll, D., & Stefanacci, R.
Citation: American Journal of Managed Care, 24(8), 385-388
Integrated Telehealth and Telecare
for Monitoring Frail Elderly with Chronic Disease
Presents the findings of a telemonitoring program that collects the vital signs and activity-level
information of elderly individuals living alone with chronic disease. Includes discussion on
integrated care monitoring technologies to improve timely care for elderly populations.
Author(s): Gokalp, H., de Folter, J., Verma, V., et al.
Citation: Telemedicine Journal and e-Health, 24(12), 940-657
in Skilled Nursing Facilities: Opportunities to Improve Quality, Health, and Costs of Care
Describes the increased clinical and financial pressures faced by skilled nursing facilities.
Discusses how telehealth can help improve access to care and financial outcomes in skilled nursing
facilities. Includes policy opportunities and recommendations to expanding telehealth to skilled
Author(s): Broderick, A., Redington, L., Steinmetz, V., & Lindeman, D.
Organization(s): Center for Connected Health Policy: The National Telehealth Policy Resource
Use of Telemedicine Can Reduce
Hospitalizations of Nursing Home Residents and Generate Savings for Medicare
Examines if nursing home residents who received off-hours telemedicine physician coverage experienced
lower hospitalization rates compared to nursing home residents who did not. Conducts analysis to
determine if nursing homes with telemedicine coverages experience lower hospitalization rates for
residents and if it resulted in financial savings.
Author(s): Grabowski, D.C. & O'Malley, A.J.
Citation: Health Affairs, 33(2), 244-250