By: Evan Sweeney
Opportunities exist for digital tools to ease the isolation and stress that family caregivers often experience while caring for a loved one, many of whom are open to solutions that provide easy access to information.
AARP has pointed to the 40 million Americans providing care to family members as a huge market opportunity for IT innovators. But it appears that market is still ripe for new solutions that can resolve specific problems.
Nearly 75% of caregivers say technology like apps, smartphones or tablets play at least a minor role in providing or coordinating care, according to a survey released by the Massachusetts eHealth Institute. Despite their willingness to use digital solutions, most respondents said they were overwhelmed by the options available to them and noted that most solutions only work well in isolation.
But the survey also highlighted some important areas where digital solutions could meet specific needs for caregivers.
Information sharing: Eighty-seven percent of caregivers said they have communicated with their loved one’s provider in the last six months, so it’s no surprise that more than half said communication tools to speak directly to providers is an appealing feature of technology. Caregivers were also searching for tools that would allow them to access test results or medical records in one place, and ways to obtain reliable information about medical conditions.
Social support: Caregivers are overwhelmingly stressed, burned out, isolated, and in some cases, depressed. For that reason, many are seeking support in the form of interactions with those faced with a similar situation. More than one-third of respondents were interested in technology that would either connect them with other caregivers for support or conversation or provide them with a support network.
Care management: Three-quarters of respondents said they are tasked with tracking their loved one’s daily activities and 88% are tasked with giving medication. Digital apps the provider reminders to eat or take medication were appealing to 76% of respondents. Nearly half of respondents were looking for a solution to help them organized several care responsibilities in one place.