HIT enables out-of-home caregivers

Web, other tools help friends and family manage care, communicate with providers
Tools

Health information technology is frequently used by family members and friends who provide in-home care to patients, especially among individuals who provide more intense caregiving, a study from the Journal of Medical Internet Research finds.

The study set out to see that if given the right tools, these individuals, known as out-of-home caregivers, could inexpensively facilitate care, and also determine what barriers impede the use of HIT. Two sequential web-based surveys, asking about the use of HIT in taking care of a family member or friend, were given to a national sample of out-of-home caregivers. The most common purpose for technology was found to be helping the care recipient find health information online; less common was sending emails to healthcare providers, tracking health information, accessing health records and filing medications.

Among the 316 out-of-home caregivers who took the survey, 34.5 percent reported using HIT. The more a caregiver participated in taking care of someone, the more likely he or she was to use HIT. Seventy percent of users surveyed who had not been using technology for caregiving were interested in doing so in the future.

The study concludes, "Healthcare systems can address the mismatch between caregivers' interest in and use of technology by modifying privacy policies that impede information exchange."

With expanded uses for the Internet as a health management tool, as FierceHealthIT reported last week, online portals can be a great place to manage medications and chronic conditions, and patients are enthusiastic about using them--but another JMIR study shows that more features and functionality are necessary to maximize medication management and adherence.

To learn more:
- read the JMIR study

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