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Telehealth Became a Lifeline for Older Americans. But It Still Has Glitches


A nurse helps set up a telehealth session for William Merry, a patient recovering from pneumonia, at home in Ipswich, MA.

Last month, Medicare announced that it would extend most telehealth coverage through 2023, to allow time to evaluate whether the services should be permanently added to its coverage.

Credit: Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Ben Forsyth had doubts about telehealth.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit New York, he was wary of trekking by subway from Brooklyn to see his palliative care doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. The prospect of entering a hospital and sitting in a waiting room troubled him, too.

But when his doctor, Helen Fernandez, suggested a video visit to monitor his chronic kidney disease and other conditions, "I wasn't sure how it would work," said Dr. Forsyth, 87, a retired internist and university administrator. "Would I feel listened to? Would she be able to elicit information to help with my care?"

Still, he logged on through Mount Sinai's patient portal ("I wouldn't say it was completely user-friendly") on his laptop — and quickly became a convert.

He's had four video appointments with Dr. Fernandez since, along with two in-person visits once he was fully vaccinated. He consulted her remotely when he wintered in Florida; he has also seen his cardiologist and his sleep specialist through telehealth.

From The New York Times
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