The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MeHI/MassTech) is pleased to present this new research report, “Caregivers and Digital Health: A Survey of Trends and Attitudes of Massachusetts Family Caregivers.” Sponsored by MeHI and conducted by The MassINC Polling Group, this report identifies key challenges faced by Massachusetts family caregivers and offers insight to help entrepreneurs develop solutions to address those challenges.
More than 43 million adults in the United States provide unpaid care to another adult or to a child1, with an overall economic value of more than $470 billion annually2. In addition, as our population ages and life expectancy continues to expand, these totals are only trending upward. While these statistics have been documented by AARP and others over the years, MeHI sponsored this research in order to help identify key opportunities for the digital health industry to support Massachusetts family caregiveres and address their individual challenges.
1 National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.
2 AARP Public Policy Institute. (2015). Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update.
Digital Health Can Benefit Family Caregivers Both Practically and Emotionally
The key findings from the “2017 Caregivers and Digital Health” report are as follows:
- Massachusetts caregivers are overwhelmingly stressed, depressed, and feel isolated due to their constant, “24-7-365” lifestyle.
- The most common challenges for caregivers have nothing to do with the complexities of providing care, according to respondents. More challenging is the time and energy required while trying to balance caregiving with their personal lives and other daily tasks.
- The most appealing technologies for these home-based caregivers are those that can:
- Serve as a platform to facilitate peer-to-peer support;
- Provide access to medical records and/or resources; or
- Manage and/or consolidate tasks and time.
- Caregivers are either unaware of the options available to them – OR – are aware of too many options and do not know how to choose between them.
- Caregivers surveyed showed little fear or lack of understanding of the technology, with 96 percent reporting they go online daily.
The role of caregiving has a large socio-emotional impact that cannot be ignored. As this impact grows, families are looking for innovative solutions to help them balance the demands of caregiving with the demands of their own lives. Digital health technology can help address the adverse health complications that caregivers face by building communities for peer to peer interaction and support, improving the ability for caregivers to monitor health and medications, and assisting in managing everyday tasks. Innovative technologies also have the potential to help caregivers feel more organized and ultimately more in control.
Through the Massachusetts Digital Helath Initiative, MeHI is partnering with industry, academia, and government to accelerate the growth of digital health innovations in Massachusetts, and to leverage technology solutions which have an impact on the health and wellness of the Commonwealth’s residents. Among the challenges facing our community in the coming years, supporting unpaid caregivers is an area worthy of strategic focus from our entrepreneurial ecosystem.