Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Veterans Health Care: How technology can connect doctors and caregivers

The more physicians can help get the needed technology to caregivers, experts say, the easier those caregivers' lives will be. Likewise, the more engaged the caregiver is, the better the outcomes for patients.

The help caregivers are looking for can be simple moral support through online support groups, ways to communicate directly with the doctor electronically, or more advanced technology that can be the eyes and ears watching over that patient when they can't.
Seventy-seven percent of caregivers want access to the electronic records of the care recipient to obtain information such as health history, medication lists and test results, according to the NAC survey. Many physicians with electronic medical records have online patient portals where patients or their caregivers can download this information. With this access, caregivers can share records from one physician to the next.

Seventy percent of caregivers not living with a care recipient say a system that would remind the patient when to take medications and dispense pills at the right time would be beneficial, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving survey. There are tools on the market that send audio reminders to the patient to take medications. An alert is sent to the caregiver if a pill hasn't been taken. There also are smart-pill technologies in development that would send alerts to caregivers or physicians when a pill is swallowed.

Seventy percent of caregivers said remote monitoring devices that collect data such as vital signs, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and send that information to physicians or care managers for analysis, would be helpful, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving survey.

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