The solution is not simply developing tools to manage patient symptoms, but to deliver better support to family caregivers who are collectively spending more than $500 billion annually to care for elderly relatives.
“If we do not support the role of family caregivers and value them in this process, there is nothing we can do to bend the cost curve beyond what we’re doing,” said Thomas Riley, chief executive of Seniorlink, which developed a digital communication platform to help coordinate care for Alzheimer’s patients.
Riley, the CEO of Seniorlink, said that means care will be increasingly delivered in home settings, where technology can help facilitate access to timely information and care. Seniorlink’s communication platform, called Vela, is a digital messaging service that can be used by all the family members, clinicians, and service providers involved in a patient’s care. Similar to workplace platforms like Slack, it lets the parties communicate in real time to address emergent problems and share information about changes in a patient’s condition and level of need.
Riley said the company is using analytics to help recognize patterns in patients’ symptoms, in an effort to flag optimal interventions for caregivers. He cautioned, however, that such technology should be used only to augment human care — not replace it.
“Money always rushes to technology,” he said. “But what technology gives you is data that humans still have to act on. And to act on it, they have to be able to trust it.”
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