In March 2020, siblings Hannah and Arjun Verma began the 501(c)(3) nonprofit TeleHealth Access for Seniors whose mission is to improve telehealth accessibility by collecting compatible mobile devices to donate to senior and low-income patients.
TeleHealth Access for Seniors had its genesis when the Verma siblings overheard their parents, both medical professionals, discuss the difficulty they had staying connected with senior patients during the pandemic.
Seniors without telemedicine access at high risk during pandemic
Seniors are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in part because of their high percentage of chronic conditions. According to the National Council on Aging, “Approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 68% have at least two. Four chronic diseases—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—cause almost two-thirds of all deaths each year”. Due to these chronic conditions, the senior population is more susceptible to COVID-19 infection and death. They must stay home to avoid infection and rely on telemedicine to access healthcare during the pandemic.
With an understanding of seniors’ vulnerability to COVID-19 and lack of access to technology, the Vermas began collecting used mobile devices to donate to their local health clinic. They reached out to Hannah’s Yale peers, Aakshi Agarwal and Siddharth Jain, who shared concern for the senior and veteran population of Connecticut. Over time, TeleHealth Access for Seniors grew from four members to 350 volunteers across 26 states.
TeleHealth Access for Seniors has partnered with over 92 clinics across the country to bring devices to over 2300 patients. They accept used device donations as well as cash donations to put toward purchasing new devices. So far they have raised $100,000.
Their work doesn’t stop there. TeleHealth Access for Seniors also provides printed instructions alongside their donated devices. Plus, they offer free tech support to prepare patients for telehealth appointments and wellness app use. They encourage seniors to use the new devices to stay connected with friends and family while they self-isolate.
Long-Term Goals for Telehealth
In addition to connecting seniors with healthcare and family during the pandemic, TeleHealth Access for Seniors aims to solve long-term healthcare challenges. They believe that broader telehealth accessibility will lead to increased compliance, lower patient costs, fewer hospitalizations and more personalized healthcare.
Get Involved at TeleHealth Access for Seniors
To donate a device, funds, or your time to TeleHealth Access for Seniors, check out their website at telehealthforseniors.org.