How tech-averse seniors are navigating telehealth appointments

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Navigating the new normal of doctors visits can be quite the task if you’re not too savvy with cellphones and computers. 

For seniors, the technology can be daunting. A visit to the doctor has always been in person, but not anymore. 

Dr. Chris Plastaras, attending physiatrist at MossRehab in Elkins Park, said his patients are doing their best to handle the change — with some help.

“A lot of people — and it’s not just older individuals — have a phone, and they have no idea all the capabilities that it has,” he said. “The first thing is figuring out if the device has a camera. The other thing is if their device can take text messages.”

His staff walk each patient through every step, explaining what button or symbol to look for, what to select, and how to position the phone or tablet for the best angle. 

These aren’t the quick in-and-out office visits you’re used to either — each one can take a half-hour or more.

“A typical follow-up, even for an established patient, I would expect 25 to 30 minutes,” said Plastaras. “Some of the time may be partly getting connected, getting the audio on. We have flashcards we flash in front of the video to say, ‘Hey, turn the mic on.’ There’s a lot of little tricks to help people get through it.”

And they are getting through it. It just takes a little patience and support.