Digital CARE: Using technology to engage and educate family caregivers

More than 40 million Americans perform a family caregiving role each year for a loved one. These include often overlooked caregiving populations, including men, people from every race/ethnicity and millennials. Not only is this work unpaid, but it often incurs extensive out-of-pocket costs for the caregiver, who is often expected to perform medical tasks with little clinical guidance or training.

In addition, with people living longer, there’s an emerging “sandwich generation” of people who are both caring for children and parents. The bottom line is that the existing healthcare system doesn’t support and educate any of these caregivers in the way that’s needed, as they are being tasked with care and medical activity at home, work that they may be both unprepared and untrained for.

The CARE Act takes shape

To address the need of supporting patients and family caregivers, AARP developed the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, legislation that has so far been passed in 41 states and territories and counting. Its key tenants are:

  1. Hospitals must identify a family caregiver for inpatient admissions and record the family caregiver in the medical record
  2. Hospitals must notify the family caregiver of discharge plans for the person in the hospital
  3. Family caregivers must be offered training on medical/nursing tasks they may be asked to perform.

AARP leading the charge

AARP also has a strategic focus in policy and innovation devoted to providing more support for caregivers called the Home Alone Alliance. This alliance is “a collaborative that brings together partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors to create solutions that support family caregivers.”

As part of the Home Alone Alliance, AARP developed educational content, including a suite of videos on key caregiving tasks, from wound care to mobility to managing medication and special diets. This content itself was excellent, but after launch it wasn’t getting the viewership the organization had hoped, which meant in turn that caregivers weren’t getting the vital educational information they needed.

Collaboration with GetWellNetwork

Here, GetWellNetwork saw an opportunity to provide a platform for the Home Alone Alliance videos at a time when patients and caregivers had the most need. In collaboration with AARP, GetWellNetwork created a caregiver support feature set, which works to capture from the patient and family who their key caregiver is, along with an up-to-date phone number and email address. 

In addition, GetWellNetwork provides an access point for the whole library of videos. Using GetWellNetwork technology like GetWell Inpatient and GetWell Loop, a caregiver can go in at any time to view these videos, and reinforce the information the care team is providing in person.

Implementation at Carroll Hospital

Carroll Hospital, a non-profit hospital located in Westminster, MD, was the first site to implement this feature using GetWell Inpatient. Patients and their caregivers can currently use GetWell Inpatient as an access point for the extensive collection of AARP Home Alone Alliance educational videos. In the future, Carroll Hospital will also be using the GetWellNetwork technology to capture caregiver information during a patient’s stay at their facility.

Explore further

GetWellNetwork will host a webinar, “Digital CARE: Using technology to engage and educate family caregivers,” on October 8th at 2 p.m. ET/ 11 a.m. PT. Attendees will learn about the research and policy behind the CARE Act, see a demonstration of what GetWellNetwork can do to help caregivers, both inside and outside the hospital walls and hear about how Carroll Hospital implemented the technology.

During the webinar, I will be joined in conversation by Dr. Susan Reinhard, senior vice president and director, AARP Public Policy Institute, and Stephanie Reid, vice president of Patient Care Services at Carroll Hospital.

Learn more about the webinar or register here.