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Telemedicine Comes to La Vida Real Senior Living Community

September 17, 2015

The idea of a “senior living community” can spark hope or strike fear in the ear of its listeners. For some, it evokes images of a Dickensian horror show, warehousing the elderly until an undignified demise. For others, it brings to mind thoughts of happy, carefree elders enjoying the final years of life on earth. Others simply see a necessity, a way to provide that kind of round-the-clock care that can't be provided at home. La Vida Real, a luxury retirement community in Rancho San Diego is bringing telemedicine into the equation.

InTouch at Home has set up an arrangement with La Vida Real, which allows residents access to high-end medical care—from either board-certified or board-eligible UC San Diego physicians, according to reports—without having to leave the community. A technician at the community can take appropriate vital sign measurements and relay results to a physician elsewhere, who can then engage the patient in one-on-one contact to make any measures and determine the best care program.

This makes a doctor's visit shockingly convenient; conducted from the midst of the community, it could be that a doctor visit becomes available for a short walk rather than a cross-town—or even out of town—trip, which for older folks can come with its own set of hassles. Finding parking, making appointments, having to wait to be seen—these things and more are buried by a high-speed Internet connection and real time communications capabilities. Right now, the service is only available at La Vida Real, for a monthly fee for its users. The monthly fee also includes two scheduled visits and one monthly emergency visit, with supplemental care available at further costs.

Image via Shutterstock

We've seen already how telemedicine in remote locations can be a necessary lifeline, a way for underserved, often rural, locations to get access to specialty care that may not be available due to lack of potential users. But this represents one of the earliest examples of telemedicine being used as an amenity. Admittedly, it's an amenity that makes its share of sense; packing up Grandma and Grandpa in the family car can be tough enough on its own, but driving them across town to consult with a physician can be especially difficult. With a program like La Vida Real's, that packing up is gone, and it's entirely possible for older relatives to schedule an appointment on the way to visit friends or play a round of golf. That kind of convenience can be worth a few extra dollars a month, and could be the x-factor for people choosing one senior living community over another.

The only question that remains is just how well this would work on a wide scale, and from what we know so far, the answer to that question is likely to be “pretty well.”

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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