Table 1.

Family Caregivers’ Perceived Benefits and Barriers of Telehealth

ThemeRepresentative Quote
Access to careIt’s been a good experience and saved us worry about potential exposure to COVID in a medical setting... We had visits with several providers - gastroenterology, neurology, physical medicine, orthotics, speech therapy. Each provider adapted their evaluation to the televisit medium.
I am very glad it’s offered. Dad can’t get into a car easily, and we worry about exposure to COVID-19.
Nice to have it available. Just as good as an office visit. But I have equipment to reliably do pulse-ox, temperature and blood pressure here at home in real time.
Relationship and rapportMeeting online with physicians is comforting and less threatening than going in.
Older adults’ access to and comfort with technologyMy mother in law has a limited set of technology skills (email, browsing social media) and when she needs to step outside those skills she becomes very anxious. She does manage to figure it out—she has learned Zoom for instance—but one of our biggest challenges as caregivers is helping her manage her stress and anxiety around technology. I think most people, regardless of age, get really frustrated when their tech isn’t working like they want it to, but it seems even harder for her and the other elders I care for... While telemedicine could work for her (she hasn’t used it yet, to my knowledge), it will probably not be something she initiates, and would also be something she wants hands-on help with. When she’s staying with me, she can get that, but when she’s at her home I think she could struggle.
My relative is unable to navigate technology such as 3-way call nor able to accurately convey what was talked about in her phone visit.
Appropriateness of telehealth for concernsI believe in order to have a meaningful visit with the elderly you need to be present. Watching their mobility, their body language, and non-verbal communications is more important than words often. On video so much is missed.
One of several reasons she sees a doctor is to have an infected skin wound examined that is on her back. My mom is uncomfortable even using a computer... It is also impossible for her due to bone issues and arthritis to hold up an electronic device in the precise position with adequate lighting for a doctor to be able to give an opinion on her healing. I have taken pictures before and sent them to the doctor but it is still not a full substitute for a visit, nor something she could have done without my help.
Patient-provider rapportI worry about them using telemedicine to replace face to face doctor visits. They are hard of hearing, they get upset and frustrated easily, they are intimidated by technology. They also try to put on a good face and make it seem like everything is okay... It is easier to hide problems via computer than in person.
He isn’t forthcoming about all of his symptoms and downplays what he is experiencing. I worry if the doctor can’t see him in person, she won’t get the full picture.
  • Note: Source is authors’ analysis of data.