Technological advancements in health care are intended to aid caregivers and their care recipients. But, do caregivers take advantage of this support in managing their own and their care recipient’s health?
Vibhuti Gupta, assistant professor of computer science and data science at Meharry School of Applied Computational Sciences, collaborated with Michigan Medicine researchers on a study focusing on the electronic health record patient portal use by family caregivers of hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) patients. Their research findings indicated that a significant number of caregiver respondents accessed electronic health record patient portals for their care recipients, themselves, or both. Additionally, Gupta’s statistical analysis breaks down portal use, or lack of use, according to demographic groups that will inform future studies and intervention strategies.
“Health care technology is rapidly advancing, and more demands are placed on patients and families in the outpatient setting,” said Gupta. “Our study provides an evidence-based approach to support further development of health information technology systems that may support family caregivers and enhance their preparedness for the caregiving process—for themselves and for care recipients.”
The study involved caregivers of hematopoietic cell transplantation patients. The study of more than 900 caregivers from a national US sample is the largest published sample of hematopoietic cell transplantation caregivers surveyed to date focused on caregivers’ use of their own and their care recipients’ health portal.
Caregivers typically have modest health training at best. But as the primary support unit at home for patients, are an important part of the health care system.
“The study’s finding that 77 percent portal use of caregivers is significant. Evolutions in health care technology are valuable and can provide meaningful support for caregivers. Understanding how they adopt technology will be critical in the future as new approaches are introduced,” said Gupta.
Gupta’s statistical analysis broke down responses into meaningful demographic groups. Multivariate models indicated use of care recipient electronic health record portals by caregivers was more likely with young, white, married, low-income caregivers caring for a parent, residing with the care recipient, and experiencing more caregiver depression. Caregiver use of their own electronic health record portal was more likely with young, white, high-income caregivers caring for a parent and experiencing chronic medical conditions of their own.
The study also points to gaps in the adoption of these technologies. Non-white, low income, and adult children or spouses of care recipients may be at risk for not adopting self-portal use.
“This evidence informs not only future studies, but points to the need for structured processes to train patients and families in using technologies to enable support of their care recipient,” says Gupta.
Gupta partnered 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, Electronic Health Record Portal Use by Family Caregivers of Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: United States National Survey Study, is available to read at JMIR Cancer.