Background: The benefits of telehealth from a social, financial, and practical sense are well established. However, there are many gaps in the literature regarding telemedicine services in vulnerable populations, including geriatric patients and those with mental health barriers. There is currently no telehealth literacy screening tool designed for use in care or research regarding patients with such barriers. Related screening tools for technological, digital, and e-health literacy are largely burdensome and often exhausting for these complex patients. Further, success rates of telehealth are variable in these populations and there is no uniform understanding of the factors affecting use or how to increase engagement.
Methods: To gain insight from strengths and weaknesses of existing models, we prepared a narrative review using literature searches in English pertaining to technological, digital, e-health, telehealth, and telemedicine literacy screening methods found using PubMed, Google Scholar, and Medline from January 2000 through May 2020.
Results: Here we propose and validate a novel telehealth literacy screening tool (TLST) for concise, low-burden screening of patient telehealth competency and comfort, based on an existing telehealth model.
Conclusion: The TLST is designed to be a key instrument in identifying patients who need additional interventions to successfully connect with telehealth. Development of a TLST may thereby inform development of solutions in reducing barriers encountered in current telehealth models and aid in addressing poor clinical outcomes in low telehealth-literate populations. Further, it may allow for expanded research and healthcare opportunities in the field of telehealth for vulnerable populations.