Family Caregivers Say Health IT Tools Can Provide Key Benefits

mouseMany caregivers who use health IT tools to help care for family members or friends believe emerging technologies such as mobile health devices and personal health records will significantly benefit them and their care recipients, according to a recent study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and UnitedHealthcare, InformationWeek reports.

The study was based on a November online survey of 1,000 caregivers who provide at least five hours per week of unpaid care to an adult relative or friend. All of the caregivers in the survey use the Internet or some other technology to help provide care.

Expected Benefits

In response to questions about the expected benefits of using health IT tools, the researchers found that:

  • 77% of survey respondents believed the tools would save time;
  • 76% believed the tools would make care easier logistically;
  • 75% believed the tools would make care recipients feel safer;
  • 74% believed the tools would increase feelings of effectiveness; and
  • 74% believed the tools would reduce stress (Lewis, InformationWeek, 1/11).

Top Three Tools

The survey also identified three health IT tools that appeared to have the greatest potential to improve care because they appealed to a large number of caregivers and had minimal barriers to adoption. The top three tools identified were:

  • Personal health records, with 77% of respondents saying they would find it helpful to have a Web- or software-based PHR to track medications, test results and other data;
  • Caregiving coordination systems, with 70% of respondents saying they would find it helpful to have a system that logged a care recipient’s medical appointments and helped coordinate care; and
  • Medication support systems, with 70% of respondents saying they would find it helpful to have a device that reminded patients to take their medication and provided data on side effects (Hobson, “Health Blog,” Wall Street Journal, 1/10).

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