Caregiver Apps Enable Practices to Run More Productively

Most people recognize that time is money, and perhaps no one recognizes that better than today's physician. Since there's no way to add more hours to the day, and the minutes physicians spend with their patients are often preciously few, it has become increasingly important to work more efficiently.

Most people recognize that time is money, and perhaps no one recognizes that better than today’s physician. Since there’s no way to add more hours to the day, and the minutes physicians spend with their patients are often preciously few, it has become increasingly important to work more efficiently.

To that end, sisters Julie Fry and Renee Fry-Hawker developed Making Care Easier, an online and mobile tool that helps manage the process of caring for aging parents. The tool enables patients to take a more active part in their health and well-being. That, in turn, allows medical practices to save time, while providing better patient management and care.

“A physician’s time is very limited, so we want to make sure that we use it as effectively as possible,” Julie explains. “Our app helps maximize the time that families and caregivers have with the physician.”

Personal experience

Julie and Renee recognized the need for a tool like Making Care Easier when their grandfather became ill about four years ago. Both women had extensive experience in the eldercare industry—Julie as director of marketing for the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, and Renee in the areas of business formation and new market development—so they knew how to help care for their grandfather, but they lacked the tools to do so.

Developing Making Care Easier was the solution.

“As you age you might have multiple concerns, so you’re dealing with multiple doctors,” Renee explains. “But each doctor needs information about your medication someone else might have prescribed, or what other routines you have to follow. And without being able to share that information, you take a lot of time—not only the doctor’s, but their staff as well.”

The information physicians receive is also more accurate. For example, the app tracks whether the patient is having a red day (bad), a green day (good), or a yellow day (middle of the road). Elderly patients have a tendency to visit their physician and, if they happen to be feeling good that day, will say, “Oh, I’m fine. I’m doing great.” But by being able to track the entries over the past 2 weeks or more, the physician can see there were 10 red days, and multiple medical issues.

“Caregivers are able to get the correct information to the doctor, then use the majority of the visit to talk about prevention and other important issues,” Julie says.

Embracing technology

Renee points to a 2013 study by Pew Research Center that indicates nearly 40% of U.S. adults provide care for a loved one, and that they navigate the healthcare field using technology.

For example, the study found that 72% of caregivers gather health information online, and 39% manage medications for a loved one. However, only 7% do so using online or mobile tools. Julie and Renee believe that having a tool like Making Care Easier will significantly boost the latter statistic, especially since some physicians are now encouraging caregivers to adopt apps like MCE.

“The app focuses on user-friendly participation,” Renee says. Caregivers are able to make certain that all of the patient’s medications are up-to-date, that the information is current for each of the patient’s physicians. “Some of the feedback we’ve received from doctors is that patients are coming in very well prepared.”

That, Renee emphasizes, is going to save doctors a great deal of time, especially where patients with more than one illness are concerned.

“What we’re able to do is get all the information from the patient’s entire care team together in one place,” Renee says. “Now, instead of asking a lot of questions that might go unanswered, [physicians] will get the right answers to questions so that they can prescribe the best care.”

Productive practices

Time is money, and when physicians can receive accurate information from patients and their caregivers in both an effective and efficient manner, the trickle-down effect can be a very positive impact on the practice’s bottom line.

“It definitely increases productivity, and also client satisfaction,” Renee says. “We get great ratings too, because physicians are achieving better outcomes for their patients because they’re getting better information. It helps on both sides—productivity, and the patient experience.”

Echoes Julie, “And we all know that when patients are satisfied, one of the best and most effective tools as far as publicity is word of mouth. They’re going to tell other people, and so on. So if you have satisfied patients, that’s one of the most effective ways to bolster your reputation.”