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The Use of Telemedicine in Older Patients with Gastrointestinal Diseases.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The COVID-19 pandemic helped us understand that telemedicine provides an alternative way to manage patients remotely, with an added benefit of saving time and travel costs. However, barriers may exist in an older population of patients such as inadequate technology availability and knowledge, and lack of internet connectivity. This systematic review and analysis of data at an academic medical center examines the current literature and investigates the efficacy of telemedicine for older adults requiring gastrointestinal care.

RECENT FINDINGS: In the systematic review, we included 22 manuscripts from an initial 120 that were identified based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. In this existing literature, telemedicine visits were equivalent or better than in-person visits based on many metrics, including patient satisfaction, time and money saved, and standard patient outcomes. At a rural academic medical center, there was a steady decrease in the failure rate of telemedicine visits from April 2020 to May 2022 in all age groups, including the 65 + age group, from 17% in April 2020 to 3% in May 2022.

SUMMARY: Telemedicine offers a comparable alternative to in-person visits that is convenient, low-cost, and does not compromise quality of care for older patients obtaining GI care. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated progress and uptake of telemedicine, and the successful use by all ages including older patients opens the broader conversation about the continued use of telemedicine for care in various areas of medicine.

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