You may not think of your Smartphone as a medical instrument. Its healthcare applications are not as immediately obvious as, say, a thermometer or a stethoscope. But the cell phone is becoming an increasingly valuable tool for primary caregivers. Based on available statistics, it’s obvious that Americans are turning to their handheld devices in search of healthcare assistance. According to MobiHealth News, more that 44 million health-related applications were downloaded just in 2012! This means that the options available to us are quite extensive. But it also means that there’s probably a lot of junk to sort through before you find the apps that are best suited to your caregiving needs. Here, we consider some of these best apps on the market for assisting caregivers in their duties. We also offer some tips on what to look for as you evaluate unknown apps.
Caregiver’s Touch: At $19.95 per month or $199.95 for the full year, this application should be extremely useful. Fortunately, reviews suggest that it is. Caregiver’s Touch is designed to serve as a one-stop application for all your loved one’s needs. The private and secure application compiles critical biographical information on your loved one as well as a calendar of medical appointments, a medication management tool, a storage file for insurance information, a list of critical contacts, a log of the patient’s medical history and the capacity for coordination of information between family members. The one obvious downside is the prescription price noted above, which allows one to use the app in combination with the Caregiver’s Touch website. Caregiver’s Touch is at the top end of the spectrum for both functionality and cost.
Carezone: On the opposite end of the price spectrum is this application, which is free to users. The emphasis with Carezone appears to be on sharing critical caregiving information between multiple users. This makes it particularly useful for families where caregiving duties are split between several family members. Carezone allows users to invite friends and family to become ‘helpers.’ Subsequently, the application allows ‘helpers’ to share task lists, health journal entries, medical files and information on medication management. On the down side, the application does not provide reminders for appointments or medication scheduling. But for the money, Carezone is tough to beat.
Balance: Some applications are designed to address the particulars of a single health condition. This is the case with Balance, which is fashioned to help caregivers manage the challenges unique to caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease. At a mere $3.95 per download, Balance offers a lot of bang for the buck. Like the far costlier Caregiver’s Touch, Balance does provide scheduling and reminders for appointments and medication. Indeed, its Pillbox function establishes a fairly comprehensive framework for tracking prescriptions. The application also offers a set of specific informational resources relating to Alzheimer’s disease, including literature on various dimensions of the condition and some tips for effective caregiving. On the down side, Balance does not incorporate an emergency contact list or facilitate file storage.
Evaluating Apps on the Market These are just a few of the positively reviewed caregiving apps on the marketplace, but there are literally thousands to choose from. As you evaluate the app that’s best for you, here are some features to consider:
Price: There is a broad price variation, ranging from hundreds of dollars to totally free. Before you spend a ton of money, look around for a more affordable alternative.
Customization: Your loved one is unique and so are his or her treatment needs. Look for an application that can be customized to meet these individual needs.
Applicability: Some apps are only available for certain devices. Make sure the application you choose is compatible with all the devices and web browsers you intend to use.
Product Support: Choose a company with verifiable contact information and readily available customer service support.
Quality Control: Read reviews. If you want to know how good an application is, see what other people are saying. When it comes to caregiving, you need all the help you can get. With some good consumer research, this help could be right in the palm of your hand.