From mobile apps to the sharp increase in telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic, digital health technologies have become an important aspect of health care. As the use of these tools increases and the technology itself evolves, it is important to understand if and how they are adopted.
Vibhuti Gupta, Assistant professor of computer science and data science at Meharry School of Applied Computational Sciences, joined colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Eastern Michigan University, Indiana University Bloomington, and University of Michigan Medicine to examine the characteristics of family caregivers of hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) patients according to their use of digital health technologies.
“We found that consumer digital health technologies like fitness trackers, smartwatches, and mobile apps, may be promising avenues for supporting caregivers of patients undergoing HCT,” said Gupta.
The study conducted an online cross-sectional, national survey of 948 family caregivers of patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation. Nearly two-thirds (65.4 percent) reported using an app for fitness or step counting, while 41.3 percent said they use a smartwatch. The average number of apps used was 3.3.
Adjusted models identified differences among caregiver demographics. For instance, caregivers of adults were more likely to use fitness trackers than those of children, duration of caregiving was associated with the use of fewer apps, and caregivers of patients receiving an allogeneic transplant used more apps on average than caregivers of patients receiving an autologous transplant.
The study takes on heightened importance within the context of the coronavirus pandemic that has created the need for virtual heath care solutions.
“Digital heath technology use will continue to increase,” said Gupta. “Many of the respondents in our sample own a smartphone. Providers and health systems could create and implement novel ways to reach a large number of caregivers through mobile apps.”
Gupta collaborated with Minakshi Raj, assistant professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Flora Hoodin, professor, Eastern Michigan University; Lilian Yahng, director, Research and Development and the Research Laboratory at Indiana University Bloomington; Thomas Braun, professor of biostatistics, University of Michigan School of Public Health; and Sung Won Choi, associate professor, University of Michigan: Michigan Medicine.
The article, “Evaluating health technology engagement among family caregivers of patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation,” preprint is published in Research Square.