A Pilot Program for Training Older Adults to use Telemedicine for Outpatient Geriatric Psychiatry

Heejung Kim, BA

McLean Hospital
A Pilot Program for Training Older Adults to use Telemedicine for Outpatient Geriatric Psychiatry

Scientific Abstract

Background: Digital literacy presents to be a potential barrier to care for patients accessing telehealth services. At the Technology and Aging Lab at McLean Hospital, we identified a need for technology support within the Geriatric Psychiatry division based on a survey disseminated to clinicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: In response to this need, research assistants provided technology support to patients with a specialized workflow. When patients were referred to this team, research assistants completed training sessions prior to the next scheduled virtual appointment and provided instructional guides as personalized manuals on the installation and usage of the videoconferencing platform.

Results: The technology support team successfully trained 55% (n=26) of patients to use Zoom unassisted and trained 17% (n=8) of patients successfully after two to four support calls. On average, the average tech support call lasted 53 minutes across all devices. Among the patients that were trained, laptops were used most frequently (n=18), followed by iPhones (n=12) then iPads (n=10). Notably, all patients who had identified neurocognitive disorders were successfully trained. Training patients using computers required more time than training those with smartphones, indicating that technology proficiency is greater in older outpatients with smartphones than those with computers.

Conclusion: Our study shows that providing personalized technology support allows older adult outpatients to successfully access telepsychiatry services. Our findings indicate that increased use of telepsychiatry within geriatric settings compels enhanced support for older patients with digital literacy needs.

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research Areas


Tamare V. Adrien, BA, Heejung J. Kim, BA, Hailey V. Cray, BA, Ana F. Trueba, PhD, Brent P. Forester, MD, Ipsit V. Vahia, MD

Principal Investigator

Ipsit V. Vahia, MD

Affiliated Website