Making seniors comfortable with telehealth will be a goal for healthcare in 2021

Telehealth has played a critical role in healthcare delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is especially true for older Americans. Given the numerous restrictions and guidelines that have been enacted to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, virtual care has been critical in helping seniors safely get the care they need.

Yet, according to data from Medicare-focused digital health company GoHealth, three in five Medicare beneficiaries and seniors nearing eligibility admit to not knowing how to use video call technology. The main issues boil down to access and education.

Prior to the pandemic, reimbursement had been an issue as well, with stringent rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about what is reimbursable and what is not representing a barrier to entry. Recently, though, the regulatory environment has eased somewhat, with CMS making allowances for reimbursement, and Congress mulling permanent changes to the payment landscape when it comes to virtual care.

This allowed providers to rapidly pivot to virtual modalities when it became evident that the pandemic would cause a shift in utilization. This has been happening steadily throughout the year: According to a survey released in May by the Alliance of Community Health Plans and