Better Communication, Oversight Key For Future of Home Care Technology

Despite the continuous introduction of new technology, the home care industry struggles with communication and seems to lag behind in implementing strategies for use of the new tools, according to a report from Aging In Place Technology Watch.

The report, prepared by Laurie Orlov, principal analyst at Aging In Place Technology Watch, surveyed 351 home care managers in an effort to learn about the current use of home care technology, and how to improve use in the future. Home care managers were surveyed online and are responsible for 34,509 home care, home health care and geriatric care management workers employed by an organization or franchise. 

Although the study finds that 76% of responders use cellphones, communication between home care providers, their agencies, hospitals, patients, and family members often becomes difficult when groups in the industry do not share information with each other due to language barriers and fear of sharing patient information, according to the report. The home care industry also lacks a body that oversees and integrates all components of the health care business. 

“In the home health continuum, there is a lack of conversation and care deliverers don’t speak the same language or have the same goal. There is not a good hand-off of information from one health care provider to the next.,” said Anne Marie Gavel, vice president of United Health Care Medicare and Retirement Group. 

The Aging In Place Technology Watch proposes an organization called the Home Care Information Network (HCIN) will evolve over time. They project HCIN will integrate different care systems in the health care industry and lead to a more efficient and standardized way of communicating, according to Aging in Place Technology Watch.

HCIN would also be the first body to establish one system that tracks care recipients through their entire care experience, instead of placing the responsibility on each individual organization. A patient’s records would readily be available to home care providers, assisted living professionals, and hospitals through the HCIN. 

An increasing need for home care information to “follow the care recipient” is cited in the report. This would grant more patients the opportunity to be involved in their own care and could lead to better communication over different care organizations, according to Aging In Place Technology Watch. 

The report also finds that while advances in tablets and telehealth technologies are present, their implementation is behind. The rate at which a tool such as a medication dispenser is suggested to clients is nearly five times larger than the number of patients who actually purchase the technology, according to the report. 

Telephone and e-mail are the most common communication methods between care providers, their organizations, care recipients and families, according to the report. The main form of communication from care providers surveyed are telephone (91%) and email (54%). 

Read the full report here

Written by Erin Hegarty

Erin Hegarty