People who use the services of home care agencies often move among many different care settings over the course of their lives. But their health information rarely moves with them, according to The Future of Home Care Technologya report from Aging in Place Technology Watch. 

The report, which shares findings from a recent survey of home care managers that was sponsored by Philips, a CAST sponsor, Microsoft and LivHome, suggests that non-medical home care, home health care, and geriatric care management organizations are only beginning to make the most of technology. 

As a result, information about individual clients is not yet passed effectively or electronically between the various locations a care recipient may visit.

Cellphones and PCs Dominate; Use of Software and Telehealth is Rare

Survey findings showed that:

  • Cellphones and personal computers dominate the home care field. Three-quarters (76%) of survey respondents use cell phones and more than half use either a laptop (61%) or desktop (53%) computer. Almost half (48%) reported having smartphones. However, only a small portion use tablets (24%), Skype or web cameras (10%).
  • Software use is not the norm. Fewer than half (42%) of survey respondents use software to record time and activity data that would facilitate billing, payroll, performance oversight and compliance with regulations. 
  • Telehealth is not common. Organizations report using blood pressure monitors (14%) and medication dispensers (52%). However, only 9% of respondents said that their clients transmit data from their medication dispensers to their home health care providers. 
  • Safety and health technologies are suggested, but not sold or reimbursed. Organizations most often recommended personal emergency response systems, medication dispensers, blood pressure monitors, weight scales and thermometers.

Introducing the Home Care Information Network

The Future of Home Care Technology recommends the creation of a Home Care Information Network (HCIN) to help home care agencies communicate better with families and health care partners. The HCIN would use a secure portal to transfer information about client conditions, medications and care status. 

A similar portal could also link informal caregivers to the formal care system.