mHealth’s Missing Link: Technology That Helps the Caregiver

Eric Wicklund | mHealth Intelligence | May 25, 2016

A recent study finds that many mHealth platforms for seniors are failing to gain traction because they don't pay attention to the caregiver's needs.

A recent study finds that more than 70 percent of family and friends providing care to a loved one at home are interested in using mHealth technology to support their caregiving tasks, and roughly 60 percent would use whatever’s available now. But only 7 percent are actually using it. This disconnect is often seen as a missing link in developing mHealth for the senior population – and a missed opportunity to reach what’s expected to be 45 million Americans caring for some 117 million people by 2020.

With more and more seniors (a growing population as well) wanting to stay at home and stay active longer, the mHealth industry has been responding with a wide variety of solutions, including modified personal emergency response systems (PERS), smart devices at home, home monitoring platforms that connect the senior to a care team and even social media platforms that enable the senior to connect with friends and family more frequently.

But these seniors aren’t doing it all themselves, and very often rely on family members and friends to help them with tasks. The HITLAB study, supported by the AARP’s Project Catalyst team, comprised of Pfizer, UnitedHealthcare, MedStar Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that caregivers would benefit greatly from mHealth platforms that include them in the loop, enabling them to help with medication adherence, scheduling and daily care management. According to Pugliese, past surveys focused on online services for seniors at home, and didn’t notice any trends emerging with caregivers...