This year during the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned that many senior cancer patients were struggling with the lack of technology to complete virtual visits with their health care providers. It was important that we launch this life-saving program. I started contacting senior cancer patients and asking questions about their technology experience. Some of the seniors had problems simply understanding and logging in to a laptop or device and faced the dilemma of balancing health care provision and the use of modern technology. For example, I remember talking to a senior patient about the mouse on the computer and she started looking around her house proclaiming, “I don’t have mice in my house”. After witnessing this misconception, I knew our services would be beneficial.
We developed the Telehealth Service Program to close the gap between this patient population and their medical professionals to ensure quality virtual health visits. The mission of the Telehealth Service Program is to prepare in-home educators to serve as liaisons between health care providers and senior patients teaching computer literacy skills training to underserved individuals. Our support team and steering committee has helped to develop recruitment strategies, perform cost analysis, and complete a critical needs assessment to ensure positive outcomes were implemented. We hired a project manager, Telehealth Educator (TE) supervisor, and support staff partners, while recruiting health care workers from local home-health facilities. Within a six-week period we were able to create/design an instructional training manual, develop a training module, purchase technology equipment, perform evaluations and interview prospective workers.