July 23, 2024

Caregiver holding hands Asian elderly woman patient, help and care in hospital.

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As South Africa commemorated Hospice Week from 5-11 May, the role of partnerships in providing support and care for people with life-threatening illnesses or those nearing end of life came into collective focus. Technology is redefining what it means to be an informed caregiver, offering the potential to enhance the lives of millions.

Statistics South Africa has found that the country is home to more than 5 million elderly people and rising. In the coming years, more South Africans will shoulder the responsibility of care, not only for the elderly but also for others in need.  Have you ever taken a family member or loved one to a hospital in an emergency, only to be asked about their medical history and conditions, of which you know nothing? It can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, considering you need to ensure that the information you provide is accurate, enabling the doctors to address the specific matter at hand.

As a caregiver, having access to accurate and up-to-date information about someone’s health issues is immensely important. Medical records are often a complicated knot of interconnected issues, and treating one aspect in a specific way can have unintended consequences. However, sifting through extensive medical records from diverse sources every time a person is admitted to care can be time-consuming. This is where the power of technology, specifically artificial intelligence (AI), comes into play.

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By leveraging advanced healthcare technologies like AI, caregivers can effortlessly access real-time data from previous consults, providing healthcare professionals and caregivers with the most accurate, recent, and comprehensive information possible. Technology is redefining what it means to be an informed caregiver, offering the potential to enhance the lives of millions.

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Knowledge is care

Arvind Raichur, CEO and co-founder of Eagle Intelligent Health understands first-hand the stress of managing medical records while caring for someone. It was a personal experience that motivated him and his wife to establish the company.

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During the care of his mother, Raichur observed that the doctors providing her treatment often struggled to maintain a comprehensive clinical picture of her ailments, prescriptions, and past procedures, particularly during emergencies. Her extensive medical history, stemming from various sources, posed a significant challenge. This highlighted the critical need for on-demand access to easily understandable medical records. By maintaining an up-to-date summary of her conditions, medications, and allergies, Raichur and his family could effectively advocate for her. Without this crucial information, ensuring the best possible care would have been impossible.

“The time I spent as my mom’s caregiver was rewarding, but it was also one of the most stressful situations I have ever lived through. Throughout it, my wife and I had constant conversations about our frustrations with the process, and what we could do as entrepreneurs to help fix the experience for other people,” explained Raichur. Harnessing the power of AI, Raichur and his wife developed an app that democratises access to medical professionals while equipping caregivers with a powerful advocacy tool. Their personal experience also provided valuable insights into the caregiving journey. These were some of their key takeaways:

Engage actively

It is crucial for caregivers to actively listen and understand the information shared by healthcare professionals. Medical histories, treatments, and medications are complicated and require effort to understand. Although healthcare professionals possess years of training, the delivery of information and can sometimes be intimidating. To provide the best care, caregivers should locate their loved one’s medical records and take the time to understand their contents. They should also take steps to ensure that the information in the records is correct, as mistakes that go unnoticed can potentially be dangerous.

Always have quick, easy access

Store an up-to-date summary of medical records in an easily accessible place. Just as you might store a boarding pass on your phone, having accurate summaries of medical information within a few taps is important. Using innovative technology that gives you access to detailed and summarised versions of this information without you having to do much more than enter your passcode, can help you immensely in times of stress.

Have an informed advocate

Having a healthcare advocate is akin to having insurance. When you or your loved one receives a significant medical diagnosis, it can profoundly impact you and your family. Choose a reliable individual who comprehends your desires and can advocate on your behalf in situations where you are unable to communicate. Sharing your medical history enables them to speak effectively on your behalf.

Having on-demand access to current and comprehensible medical records can help make a significant difference in the hospital experience, potentially preventing serious consequences. Taking a proactive approach to medical care using technology can reduce guesswork and trial and error, making for a seamless caregiving experience.

Story Submitted: Tribeca

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