Caregivers Want Technology to Help Guide Support, Study Shows

Caregivers devoting 20 or more hours per week are looking for their own support and new study shows that much of that support is being provided by technology that allows better communication with physicians and other caregivers.

With many caregivers devoting 20 or more hours per week providing care to someone in need — often times in addition to holding down a full-time job – it’s not surprising that they are looking for their own support. A new study shows that much of that support is being provided by technology that allows better communication with physicians and other caregivers, ultimately resulting in a better social and moral support network than before.

According to a study published in 2011 by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and UnitedHealthcare, 1,000 caregivers who have used the internet or some other form of technology to help them deliver care were surveyed on how technology has helped or could help them further.

Among a selection of 12 technologies the NAC believed were useful tools in aiding caregivers, the 3 technologies that the respondents believed would be the most helpful were personal health record tracking to keep track of the care recipient’s history, symptoms, medications, and test results (77% rated it as very or somewhat helpful); a caregiving coordination system that keeps record of upcoming doctor’s appointments and other needs (70%), and a medication support system that reminds patient’s about the prescription medications they receive and when to take them (70%).

Among the reasons why adopting these technologies into caregiving would make a difference, respondents said that the implementation of these technologies would help them save time (77%), manage the logistics of caregiving (76%), help make their care recipient feel safer (75%), increase feelings of effectiveness as a caregiver (74%), and reduce stress (74%).

While many of the caregivers surveyed are willing to embrace technology, an average of 37% of respondents across 12 different technologies included in the survey were concerned about the cost of obtaining technology, even though 46% of respondents also felt that, in the long run, these technologies would end up saving them money.

“We know from our past surveys of caregivers that the economic downturn has taken a toll on them,” said Gail Hunt, CEO and president of the NAC, in a statement accompanying the study. “We need to ensure caregivers understand that many of these technologies are affordable or even free and provide assistance to help them find and utilize these helpful tools.”

This study was recently highlighted by the American Medical Association through American Medical News.

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