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Practice Fusion · Nov 18, 2013

5 types of technology every caregiver should use

Doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals go to great lengths to be trained in diagnosis, treatment and care coordination. It takes years to master the knowledge and hone the skills required to carry out these professional duties.

However, most of the care planned by the pros is carried out by those who are closest to patients on a day-to-day basis. The most humanistic part of healing—the part that requires tuning in to the nuances of an individual’s daily living—is where the vast majority of care is delivered. Family caregivers provide about $450 billion worth of unpaid care to loved ones annually, and these caregivers will likely continue to be the predominant long-term care service in the U.S.

With an ever-increasing older population and rates of acute and chronic illness among older adults, a growing number of people will likely take on caregiver roles and experience stressors related to the time, activities and resources that they must commit to care-giving. In fact, 65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population, providing care to others who are ill, disabled or aged.

These are the unsung heroes of the healthcare system, and during Caregiver Awareness Month, we’d like to discuss how health information technology can help ease some of the challenges for both caregivers and patients.

Have a medical alert connection
Be ready to respond before things become a life or limb-threatening emergency. There are a number of products offering personal emergency response systems (PERS) that can instantly connect a patient at home to emergency response personnel via a wearable device. These can be triggered by active events (such as a push-button) or passive events (such as moving outside of a GPS “geo-fenced” location).

Leverage routine-based notifications
Caregivers need to maintain certain routines, from activities of daily living (ADLs) to medication adherence. Daily routine-learning technology, such as Live!y, can help caregivers keep tabs. Small sensors placed throughout the home (fridge, toilet, doors and drawers) monitor and analyze basic activities and can notify caregivers when something deviates from the usual schedule.

Share and receive support from other caregivers
Chances are, no matter how rare or unique the disease or situation, someone has faced similar care challenges. Founded by a caregiver unsatisfied by the status quo, Patients Like Me is a new ecosystem of health solutions based on real patient experiences that don’t have to wait for the latest clinical trials. Help contribute to solutions for patients and caregivers today by joining this community.

Don’t overpay
Protect yourself from burdensome billing errors that can be difficult to decipher. Use patient tools like Patient Fusion to keep track of healthcare expenses, and get professional help auditing your medical bills with free services like Copatient. They may uncover savings from billing errors you didn’t know you were missing.

Track your own numbers
Caregivers often put themselves last, allowing their own well-being to suffer. Physical and emotional stressors often can’t hide from vital signs, and stress is most dangerous when it’s more permanent. Track your blood pressure regularly throughout the week, and share the trends with your doctor. With the help of cloud-based tools like Withings Healthmate, look at some of the key stress times and triggers by connecting devices, without having to write anything down.