Righting Backward Caregiving Technology

Denise

Righting Backward Caregiving Technology

Denise
iphone-518101_640About two years ago, a caregiving app debuted to a lot of fanfare. Two large tech companies developed the app with input from a well-respected gerontologist. Caregiving associations and websites supported the app's launch with promotions and marketing.

With all that support, I thought the app would be a game changer.

The app simply fizzled.

About a year later, I attended a meeting focused on caregiving and technology. One of the app's developers also attended the meeting. He shared his lesson learned: Family caregivers won't use an app that makes more work for them. He said that 95% of app users quickly abandoned the app because they just didn't have the time to enter the data (caree's meds, caregiving tasks, doctor appointments). Without that data, the app was useless.

And, that's been the problem with many of the apps launched to help family caregivers. Family caregivers have to do the work with the apps -- they have to input the information. And, who has time for that?

In other words, it's all backward.

We need apps loaded with our caree's diagnoses, current care plan and prescriptions. When we have that information, we have an app that can become our To Do list, our tracking system, our project management tool.

Rather than giving us paperwork which we then organize into binders, we need hospitals and doctors to provide us with apps loaded with data -- specific and personal to our carees--which become the way we manage our caregiving experiences. The app reflects the changes in our caree's condition and diagnoses and includes tips, videos and helpful information to manage the care our caree needs. Because we can enter daily data as appropriate (like our caree's weight, blood pressure, glucose levels), the app can alert us when the numbers indicate a problem that may need medical attention. The doctor is alerted as well so we can have an effective phone conversation about whether or not to head to the hospital. Then, when we have to head to the emergency room, the ER doctor simply downloads the data from our app to understand our caree's current status.

Goodbye piles of paperwork, repetitive questions from health care professionals, an unhelpful and ineffective hospital discharge process. Hello efficiency and empowerment for both the caree and family caregiver.

We're already doing the heavy lifting -- without receiving any reimbursement -- within the health care system. The health care system needs to take some of that weight off our shoulders.

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Jean

Awe, I had looked at some of those apps and my thought was exactly as you said... to much work and confusing.... at least the apps I reviewed and I know my way around a computer more than many.\r\n\r\nIt's interesting. A younger cousin of mine started his own business years and years ago and focussed on computerizing medical records -- for institutions. He got snatched away by a big corporation and sold his business. It's certainly taken years to get started this direction. Currently, my doctor's system interfaces with the hospital and other doctors in that system but I doubt is the two major systems in our area connect to each other.\r\n\r\nMy son told me about technology where you could wear a ring that could be scanned that contain all your medical info. I'm sure that's in development somewhere. \r\n\r\nI will run the issue of technology for caregivers by him when I get a chance. He is partner at company that does lots of development of software and major systems. He is now researching direction for the company to go in future. They do work for top firms in country and abroad so have no idea if they would even be interested. You never know though.

Denise

Yes. :)\r\n\r\nI think it takes one large hospital system to integrate a solution like this to back other hospital systems into a corner. And, universal is key--we need to be able to share data within and without our own network. The ability to share data shouldn't reside only within one system.\r\n\r\nI really hope that anyone thinking about creating an app for family caregivers will effective research the market before launching another \"care management\" tool. We have so many of these which few ever use. I wish we could pool our collective energies to really create something that's useful--that makes a daily difference to a family caregiver. And I wish we could do this for the greater good rather than for our own personal agenda (like ego and money).

Thedogmama

I couldn't agree with you more, but that would be just too logical wouldn't it? I am afraid we are light years away from that kind of help Denise. Just from my own personal experience, between my hubby and I, the technology is there, but the coordination is not. It seems the new trend in our area is access to our medical information and communication with our doctors can now be done through \"portals\". The only problem here is that each doctor seems to have their own portal and none of them talk to one another. So, unfortunately, I have one for the big medical center where my OBGYN has her office and my mammograms are done, a different portal for my family doctor and now a new one for my cardiologist (who works out of the same hospital as my PCP). Not one of these \"talks\" with one another, so all the information is fragmented. How health care is going to figure that out is beyond me. Unfortunately it would be on me to gather all the information in one place and like they found out...caregivers (and us regular people too) don't have the time (or the expertise) to input all the correct data for what we need. I think it would be possible if all my health care needs came from the same place, but for now, seeing different specialties in different places is just compounding the issue. (As any caregiver knows) So I guess for now we will all carry around our laptops and notebooks and try to keep our sanity and the health of our caree coordinated. Would universal health care help? How about a universal reporting system? I'm sure the apps are out there, but as research showed, we the caregiver and/or patient, just don't have the time or energy to input all the data. I hope someone can find a solution, we sure could use it!