Tell a Mom, Telehealth

I’ve seen my mother talking on the phone with a nurse from a health plan.

Sitting on the couch with her large cup of Dunkin Donuts tea and cinnamon swirl toast, she was engaged and appeared comfortable. Based on my mom’s responses, I have an idea of the kinds of questions the nurse/case manager was asking her.

‘Did you eat breakfast?’

‘Have you felt dizzy at any time today?’

‘Are you experiencing any sadness or depression?’

I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop. But I liked watching my mother's appreciative expression while on the calls. I guess ... she was even enjoying herself.   

Did mommy realize?...

My mom doesn’t realize it, but those late morning calls are a form of telehealth care. Months after the telephone monitoring sessions ended, I asked my mother if she would consider using telehealth technologies.

Without missing a beat, she said no. “I like hands on care,” mom insisted. I wasn’t being tricky by posing the question. But, I was curious about how my mother would reply and what that response might suggest about her understanding -- and that of the general public's -- regarding health technologies.

I often wonder if many people are well-versed on telehealth services. What exactly are remote admissions? How does the transmission of medical images work to improve care delivery? And how in the world can telehealth positively impact pain management therapies?

My guess is that people are clueless about the big bold world of telemedicine – the online platforms, monitoring devices, wearable technologies, patient portals, video and audio telecommunications. The list of telehealth systems seems endless – as is the confusion.

This confusion, I believe, includes a measure of techtimidation.

Because of the overall appeal and simplicity of telephone monitoring or “office visits” by phone, these examples of primer telehealth methods, can serve as springboards to a fuller discussion of the exciting range of telehealth tools.

Relevance + comprehension = acceptance and use

These conversations are important to have with my mom and everyone’s mom for that matter. Who will lead this grassroots dialogue? How can the messages be structured to trickle down to communities?

Let's face it, no one gets on board with new anything unless they see how it solves their day-to-day problems and makes life easier and better for them.

The successful deployment of grand scale health IT interoperability systems, as well as regional health information exchange programs is dependent on the adoption of health IT by consumers as well as providers.

Adoption of health technologies is essential, but improbable if end users don't experience an emotional as well as intellectual connection to them.