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More than half of older adults in a recent poll said they would be comfortable using a live video service such as Skype for a medication consultation or for ongoing management of a chronic condition, although they had concerns related to use of the technology.

Researchers defined older adults as those aged 40 or more years, however.

The survey, funded by the SCAN Foundation and conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, also found that 88% of these adults would be comfortable using telemedicine to receive care, although 50% said they were “very concerned” that telemedicine could lead to lower-quality care.

Other highlights:

  • Adults aged 40 or more years were just as likely as those aged 18 to 39 to say they would be comfortable using at least one form of telemedicine, but they were slightly less comfortable communicating by text message for an urgent health concern compared with the younger adults (22% versus 29%).
  • Support for telemedicine was high among informal caregivers. Eighty-seven percent of current caregivers aged 18 or more years said they would be comfortable using at least one form of telemedicine for their older loved one.
  • 47% of adults aged at least 18 years said they were concerned about receiving low-quality care, 39% were concerned about the security of their health information or technical issues, and 31% said they had concerns about privacy when communicating with their healthcare provider.

Interviews were conducted between March 13 and April 5 with adults age 18 and older representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Panel members were randomly drawn from AmeriSpeak, and 1,945 people completed the survey — 1,588 via the web and 357 via telephone.

Scott Code, associate director of the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies, told McKnight’s Senior Living that the age range defined in the study as “older adult” was too broad to predict what results might mean for senior living operators in the near term.

A previous study on telehealth and older adults (aged 55 to 75), however, “has shown older adults are more accepting of telehealth technologies that are not a computer-based systems but rather based on a mobile platform, such as a tablet or smartphone,” Code said. “Security is also a main concern for older adults with regard to telemedicine. I hear these types of questions all the time: ‘How is the data protected, and who has access?’ Lastly, the telehealth platform needs to have an intuitive interface for all users regardless of age.”