New Connections Speed Up Care

By Joanne Kaldy, an excerpt from Provider Magazine

Energizing Elders And Their Loved Ones

No matter how much planning goes into telemedicine programs or how much is invested in the technology, it won’t be effective if patients aren’t energized and engaged.

To get elders involved, according to Easton-Garrett, “you need technology that is easy to understand and use. Make sure that the contrast of the screen is appropriate for aging eyes; have the ability to change the font size. Some items may need Braille or voice prompts.”

To help residents embrace telemedicine, she suggests having focus groups and involving resident leaders in the community. Take the intimidation out of the technology.

“Have someone who can introduce it in a way they will understand. Be prepared to address their objections. For example, if they say that they’re too old to learn something new, remind them about what changes they’ve been able to manage. Make them feel empowered.”

Part of the reason the wound care telemedicine program works, says Easton-Garrett, is that the screen is at “conversational height” for people who are seated or in wheelchairs. Because they are comfortable and can easily engage and make eye contact with the nurse, they respond and interact easily.

Easton-Garrett and her team also worked to build excitement about the telemedicine program. “We had posters at the nurses’ stations and in the hallways—‘VGo [the name of the telemedine technology] Is Coming.’” And they asked for suggestions on names for the robot.”