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Pichan CM, Anderson CE, Min LC, Blazek MC. Geriatric Education on Telehealth (GET) Access: A medical student volunteer program to increase access to geriatric telehealth services at the onset of COVID-19. Journal of telemedicine and telecare. 2021 Jun 21; 1357633X211023924.
The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic placed an unprecedented demand on health systems to rapidly shift ambulatory in-person care to virtual care. Geriatric patients face more challenges with video visit access compared to younger patients due to discomfort with technology and less access to devices and internet. Medical students at the University of Michigan created an initiative to improve access to and comfort with video visits for geriatric patients. The program's goals were to (a) explore options for the delivery of personalized training to older adults, (b) create materials for volunteers to successfully navigate conversations with patients and caregivers, (c) provide patients one-to-one remote guidance while identifying and overcoming barriers-with practice sessions to increase comfort, (d) share with the larger health system, and (e) ensure program sustainability. Over a 10-week evaluation period, providers whose patients worked with our geriatric education on telehealth access volunteers had a video visit rate of 43% compared to 19.2% prior to participation in the program (adjusted odds ratio = 3.38, 95% confidence interval = 2.49, 4.59), ultimately providing a platform for geriatric patients to foster stronger connections with their providers, while increasing Michigan Medicine's overall proportion of video telehealth visits.