Righting Backward Caregiving Technology


Righting Backward Caregiving Technology

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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