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Patient factors

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Various patient factors should also be considered when deciding if telehealth is an appropriate method of healthcare delivery.  

Age 

The age of a patient should be considered regardless of the mode of healthcare delivery. However, with telehealth, it is important to consider unique factors related to age. Patients have varying levels of familiarity with the technology required to engage in telehealth, and this can often be influenced by age. Similarly, it is important to consider cognitive status when exploring telehealth as an option.  

Presence of comorbidities 

While telehealth has been shown to be effective in managing certain long term conditions (e.g., cardiovascular disease and stroke care), face-to-face triaging may be more effective for providers managing these conditions directly. However, in the context of unique situations (i.e., COVID-19), many regions/countries are encouraging these vulnerable groups to be treated via telehealth to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. 

Mental health 

The presence of psychological issues may have an impact on whether or not a patient can be safely triaged by telehealth. While telehealth is a cost-effective solution for patients with mental illness, there are still concerns about its use, particularly in relation to clients who have physical and cognitive difficulties in addition to mental illness.  

Mobility of the patient and other impairments 

Subjects who are frail and immobile are considered a high priority when triaging patients as they have an increased risk of developing complications. However, it is essential to consider their safety when determining if telehealth is an appropriate option. Consider if a face-to-face consultation is preferable—alternatively, could a caregiver/support person safely assist when balance or mobility impairments are present? Similarly, visual or hearing impairments can have a significant impact on a patient’s ability to engage in telehealth consultations effectively ix