Digital Health: Priority for Caregivers

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MEHI) at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, recently launched a new report “Caregivers and Digital Health: A Survey of Trends and Attitudes of Massachusetts Family Caregivers”. It was found that over 60 percent surveyed reported that being a caregiver disrupts their lives a great deal or a fair amount.

The report focuses on the attitudes of caregivers in Massachusetts toward digital health technologies, identified the challenges faced by the caregivers, and ways that they could benefit practically and emotionally from future technologies. It was found that digital health technologies could potentially assist with certain challenges.

Steve Koczela President of the MassINC Polling Group which conducted the survey for MeHI said, “Much of what they are dealing with is just juggling everyday tasks. Using technology to help organize and simplify these tasks could make a big difference.”

It was found that 56 percent of caregivers stated that they hadn’t found technology that fits their specific needs, or are either unaware of the technology options available to them, or are surrounded by too many options and do not know how to choose between them.

One of the most appealing technologies for home-based caregivers surveyed was the need for technologies that would provide access to medical records in one place (57 percent). They also want reliable information about the needs and conditions of patients (52 percent), and tools to communicate directly with doctors, other care providers, and coordinators (51 percent).

The survey also showed their interest in technology to help with insurance (49 percent), the need to manage disparate aspects of care (48 percent), and technology to help balance caregiving and the rest of their lives (44 percent).

They need to be made aware that in some cases technology already exists that can help them. These include patient portals and eHealth records, insurance company websites, and apps that can aid in non-medical tasks such as with housework, shopping, and transportation.

The report found that while technology will not be a panacea for every issue faced by caregivers, the results show that there are market opportunities for digital health companies interested in helping address the demands of caregivers, both in Massachusetts and nationally. Policymakers and health professionals can work with entrepreneurs, researchers, caregivers, and patients to support the development of the technological solutions.

Tim Connelly, CEO Massachusetts Technology Collaborative reports, “We have a world-leading digital health entrepreneurial ecosystem, engaged caregiver groups, and thoughtful policymakers. If these groups work together, Massachusetts can develop new products that will improve the lives of unpaid caregivers and at the same time, grow our economy.”

Go to then click on “What’s New” for a full copy of the report as well as infographic detailing key findings.

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