Barriers and challenges to telemedicine usage among the elderly population in Israel in light of the COVID-19 era: A qualitative study

Motti Haimi, Uri Goren, Zachi Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Although there may still be many challenges to its adoption, telemedicine is becoming more and more popular for helping elderly people preserve their independence and continue to live in their own homes. We intended to investigate the challenges and barriers (if any) experienced by the elderly population when using telemedicine services in Israel. Methods: Fourteen elderly people were recruited for the study and interviewed in person using a semistructured interview protocol, using a qualitative technique. Participants’ replies were evaluated and analyzed thematically. The participants were questioned regarding their usage of telehealth services, the benefits they perceive in them, any potential difficulties or hurdles to use, and suggestions they had for making these services more readily available and simpler to use for the elderly. Results: Most participants recognized the advantages of telehealth services, particularly for the elderly population during pandemics and normal times. However, most of them also expressed various challenges that face the elderly population in using these services. Many participants were concerned that the quality of telemedicine sessions may not be good enough compared to in-person sessions, and expressed a lack of confidence in telemedicine services, and frustration from the absence of in-person interaction and communication. Many participants highlighted the technological challenges in the use of computers and applications in general and in the context of healthcare, in particular, in addition to physiological and literacy difficulties. Finally, the participants suggested several ways to increase the accessibility and usage of telemedicine solutions by elderly people. Conclusions: A proactive approach to identifying and resolving telehealth barriers can maximize virtual interactions for the older population and alleviate care inequities. In addition to identifying barriers that impede older patients from using telemedicine, there is a need to increase awareness of the availability, benefits, and uses of each telehealth service in comparison to in-person consultations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Health
Volume10
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Aged
  • COVID-19
  • digital divide
  • eHealth
  • elderly
  • health inequities
  • qualitative research
  • remote consultation
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine

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