Patient engagement technologies are patient-facing tools that support disease management programs and connect patients with their care attendants. Many caregivers, including author and family caregiver Eleanor Gaccetta, would want nothing but the best for their patients. As we all know, caregiving is a demanding job, handling multiple tasks all at the same time. It can take a toll on caregivers and even the patient, leading to unhappiness. Caring for dependent patients can be a stressful and challenging responsibility— one nobody should take on without proper support. A study done by the American Association of Retired Persons found out, 71% of caregivers are open to using technology to support their caregiving duties. Patient care and satisfaction have been directly correlated to the caregiver’s personal satisfaction with their daily work activities. The emergent of patient engagement technologies is making healthcare more personal, convenient, and interactive. Thus, patient engagement technologies improve patient care bringing joy back into caregiver practitioners and their patients.
Caregivers and patients must embrace emerging technologies as this will stay relevant in the coming years. But, how can patient engagement technologies be used to connect caregivers and patients?
Caregivers play a growing role in support of their patient’s everyday life. They are more and more involved in different areas to care for patients. When a caregiver is involved in patient care, both patients and caregivers experience better clinical outcomes. However, it is well known that communication between caregiver and patient is complex. Caregivers have difficulties expressing their needs and expectations essential to meeting the optimized quality care given to patients. Lack of communication burdens caregivers which often results in avoidance and distress. Through the varied patient engagement technologies, both caregivers and patients can socially connect with each other, other people, and healthcare providers. Tablets and smartphones have adapted larger buttons, icons, and social media for senior use.
Safety is the first and foremost duty of caregivers. Many things can be done to keep patients or loved ones safe at home. But, if the patient is unsteady on their feet or a high-risk patient, it’s crucial to address any hazards. Patient engagement technologies offer seniors the safety they need. Caregivers are often hustling around tending to the needs of patients that they unintentionally overlook major concerns. Also, some patients are ashamed to ask for help especially when they see caregivers doing other errands. A Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) device allows the patient to call for help with a simple push of a button. It gives peace of mind to families, caregivers, and patients in case of emergencies.
Medical and Health Tracking
Being a caregiver means caring for the patient by tracking appointments, health records, medication, and more. Patient engagement tools like HealthVault provides caregivers with a place to store and organize healthcare initiatives and prepare for emergencies. This makes it much easier for caregivers to access comprehensive information about the patient and make the right treatment decisions. There are a plethora of smartphone apps that contain much of the same functionality. Moreover, there are health apps such as nutrition tracking, calorie counters, and wellness apps.
Remote Patient Monitoring
It can be hard for caregivers to monitor patients all the time as they are tending to their other duties. A major concern by caregivers for patients who have Alzheimer’s disease is their tendency to wander. With the help of GPS tracking devices, caregivers can monitor patient’s locations and send them alerts. There are also the latest monitoring devices that alert caregivers when something unusual has happened to the patient. For example, the patient has stopped moving for an extended period of time. Wearable sensors provide remote monitoring without being intrusive. Moreover, these devices give patients a sense of independence as they can take a walk without a caregiver following suit. This is convenient not only for caregivers but also for friends and families to review it directly online.
The future of healthcare appears to be bright and promising. Healthcare is ever-developing in front of our very eyes with emerging innovations and advances in digital technologies. Robots or artificial technology should not be a threat. These advancements will not take over healthcare professionals’ jobs as humans still provide the best care, especially caregivers. Instead, this patient engagement technology enhances well-being and patient care, ultimately transforming whole areas of our lives. Thus, today is the moment to face and turn to technologies with an open mind and prepare for the changing world with as much knowledge as possible.