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Telehealth (also known as telemedicine) is the use of electronic communication to render medical provider services to patients. Examples of telehealth services include videoconferencing, phone calls, texting, and other wireless communication. nNot all medical services are suited for telehealth. However, for routine care and conditions that do not require an in-person examination, telehealthy can reduce healthcare costs, improve patient experiences, and make it easy to receive care from a provider. . Research has shown that telehealth services are popular, efficient, and can help address health disparities resulting from unequal access. For many chronic conditions, telehealth services may include remote patient monitoring. Remote monitoring allows healthcare providers to track a patient’s clinical measurements such as weight measurement, glucose monitoring, and falls surveillance as well as proactively initiate follow-up care if readings indicate a health issue.

In March 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) issued a waiver that expanded coverage for all Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic. These services allowed medical providers to maintain access and continuity of care for their patients, reduce travel burden, and minimize infectious transmissions.

The Alliance for Aging Research has advocated for the expanded use of telehealth services. We support removing unnecessary restrictions on the location of the patient and provider, expanding the list of clinically appropriate telehealth services as supported by clinical evidence, allowing Federally Qualified Health Centers, critical access hospitals, and rural health clinics to provide telehealth services after the pandemic ends, and reducing barriers to mental and behavioral health services furnished through telehealth.

Additionally, we must ensure that telehealth services are suited for aging users. These technologies must be designed with the patient and end user in mind. Developers of telehealth and digital platforms should ensure older adult users are comfortable using the technology and that medical information shared during a telehealth visit is secure and private. 

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