Adoption and Use of Telemedicine and Digital Health Services among Older Adults in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Repeated Cross-Sectional Analysis

Motti Haimi, Ruslan Sergienko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: As the population ages and the prevalence of long-term diseases rises, the use of telecare is becoming increasingly frequent to aid older people. Objective: This study aims to explore the use and adoption of 3 types of telehealth services among the older population in Israel before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We explored the use characteristics of older adults (aged ≥65 years) belonging to Clalit Health Services in several aspects in the use of 3 types of telehealth services: the use of digital services for administrative tasks; the use of synchronous working-hours telehealth visits with the patient's personal physician during clinic business hours; and the use of after-hours consultations during evenings, nights, and weekends when the clinics are closed. The data were collected and analyzed throughout 3 distinct periods in Israel: before the COVID-19 pandemic, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and following the COVID-19 peak. Results: Data of 618,850 patients who met the inclusion criteria were extracted. Telehealth services used for administrative purposes were the most popular. The most intriguing finding was that the older population significantly increased their use of all types of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in most types, this use decreased after the COVID-19 peak, but to a level that was higher than the baseline level before the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 23.1% (142,936/618,850) of the study population used working-hours telehealth visits, and 2.2% (13,837/618,850) used after-hours consultations at least once. The percentage of use for these services increased during the COVID-19 pandemic to 59.2% (366,566/618,850) and 5% (30,777/618,850) and then decreased during the third period to 39.5% (244,572/618,850) and 2.4% (14,584/618,850), respectively (P<.001). Multiple patient variables have been found to be associated with the use of the different telehealth services in each period. Conclusions: Despite the limitations and obstacles, the older population uses telehealth services and can increase their use when they are needed. These people can learn how to use digital health services effectively, and they should be given the opportunity to do so by creating suitable and straightforward telehealth solutions tailored to this population and enhancing their usability.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere52317
JournalJMIR Aging
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 24 Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©Motti Haimi, Ruslan Sergienko.

Keywords

  • after-hours consultation
  • COVID-19
  • digital divide
  • digital health
  • eHealth
  • Israel
  • mHealth
  • mobile health
  • mobile phone
  • older adults
  • pandemic
  • teleconsultation
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine
  • usability
  • use
  • wearables
  • working-hours telehealth visits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Gerontology
  • Health Informatics
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Adoption and Use of Telemedicine and Digital Health Services among Older Adults in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Repeated Cross-Sectional Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this