This Why the Elderly Need Virtual Doctor Visits article in the Wall Street Journal asks Marc Agronin, Geriatric Psychiatrist, Medical Director for Mental Health & Clinical Research at Miami Jewish Health Systems, Affiliate Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Author of “How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old” ‘What one new technology product do you think would be the biggest help to older people?’:
“I see the age wave in my office every day since more and more patients are in their late 80s and 90s. They are typically sociable individuals with many enduring interests who are wholly reliant upon children or aides to coordinate their schedules and provide transportation for appointments and activities. Without adequate resources, many of these elders are homebound and socially isolated. Easily accessible and user-friendly telepresence is one technology that could make an enormous difference in their lives and provide critical cost-savings.
Consider the many potential services that could be provided by the telepresence of one or more individuals on a large screen set up in the home of an elderly person: interactive social groups, adult education, cognitive stimulation, medical and mental health assessments, psychological counseling, reminders to take medications, visits with clergy, and shopping. The key elements that telepresence provides are social interactions and observation of the individual. Certain medical and mental health assessments could prevent unnecessary visits to the hospital or alert caregivers to evolving issues that warrant prompt intervention. Greater access to mental health counselors, dietitians and other specialists could be provided. Much of what I do in our memory center to evaluate individuals for cognitive impairment could be done via telepresence. Telepresence could provide interactive socialization and education in a greater variety of languages, cultures and religious approaches than available at the local senior center. An entire industry of telepresence volunteers and services could be created to serve the exploding population of ageing individuals”