Caregivers are embracing new mobile-health apps that are steadily reaching the market to help them take care of loved ones, according to researchers.
caregivers provide an estimated $375 billion worth of uncompensated aid to
family members, according to The National Alliance for Caregiving
. Mobile applications
such as those that monitor medication compliance and track locations using GPS
could make this job easier, and caregivers are increasingly embracing these
and United HealthCare have released the results of a study called
"e-Connected Family Caregiver: Bringing Caregiving into the 21st
Century" that measured how receptive caregivers were to using emerging
The online study
, based on a survey of 1,000 family
caregivers polled from Nov. 9-22, found that 77 percent of respondents believed
technology would save them time, 76 percent believed it would make their lives
easier and 75 percent thought it would make the care recipient feel
caregivers is essential to keeping seniors independent in their homes,
according to Dr. Richard Migliori, UnitedHealth Group's executive vice
president for business initiatives and clinical affairs.
technology and health care industries increasingly use these kinds of tools to
improve care in hospitals and doctors' offices, this survey is a reminder that
these improvements could be equally helpful where care matters most-in the
home," Migliori said in a statement.
The study was
presented on Jan. 8 at the Consumer Electronics Show Silvers Summit in Las
Vegas. The Silvers Summit focused on boomers, or those ages 43 and up.
this survey, we wanted to look at 'what's next' with technologies that can be
brought to bear to help caregivers focus not only on the health of their loved
one, but their own health as well," Gail Hunt, CEO and president of the
National Alliance for Caregiving, said in a statement.
In the survey,
70 percent of respondents thought electronic medication reminders could help,
and 69 percent of caregivers surveyed were open to using mobile applications to
help them take care of loved ones.
abundance of mobile-health applications are those that allow caregivers to
monitor whether patients stay on track with their medication schedule-and to
monitor their whereabouts. Nearly one in four adults ages 65 and older skip
medication doses, according to AARP.
The ability to
comply with a medication schedule could get more difficult as pharmaceuticals
become more sophisticated, and technology could help caregivers and patients
keep on track with prescriptions, Gregg Malkary, founder and managing director
of Spyglass Consulting Group, told eWEEK.
for the iPhone and iPod Touch called iBioMed
allows caregivers to keep a personal
health record of the patient's medication schedule and diet, and share this
information online with a physician. They can also enter information about
allergies and various behaviors.
application, Medic8 Manager's Personal Caregiver
, allows the caregiver to track
medication intake, receive refill reminders and create a detailed history. Users
can view information on dosage, duration and refill availability. The Personal
version allows the user to track information for one patient, the Premium
version provides three additional profiles and the Professional version allows
the user to view five to 16 profiles.
In addition to
medication-compliance, caregivers can also use GPS technology, like in the
Android application Tell My Geo
from mobile telecommunications
provider Iconosys, to keep track of loved ones who may be suffering from
Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.
tracking solutions will be used to track the physical movements of Alzheimer's
and dementia patients who may be residing in a home-based environment,"
In Tell My
Geo, Iconosys' proprietary secure-tethering technology functions as a virtual
bracelet. Its geolocator could help caregivers pinpoint the location of an
Alzheimer's patient or one with mental illness. Patients themselves can also
click on a picture to make a call rather than typing a name.
costs $9.95 per month from Android Marketplace and requires two smartphones-one
for the caregiver and one for the care recipient, according to Iconosys. The
application comes with a decal to be placed on the back of the care recipient's
phone. The caregiver can receive updates on the whereabouts of the loved one.