Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blogging on Division 21 talks from the 2012 American Psychological Association Annual Meeting: Technology and healthcare

Dr. Daniel Morrow from the University of Illinois discussed how technology can be used to improve the collaboration between health care providers and diabetes patients as well as to improve patients’ adherence to medications. The highlights from his talk are described below:

  • U.S. healthcare system assumes patients to be active, aware, and health literate.
  • Older adults with diabetes take an average of 4-5 medications per day.
  • Self-care imposes a lot of cognitive demands on the elderly. Think of the working memory demands associated with having to keep track of when each medication need to be taken.
  • Non-adherence to medications and inadequate plan for taking medications are problems. Nearly 30% of hospitalizations are linked to non-adherence.
  • Communication from health care providers is inadequate – often times, information provided to the elderly patients are poorly organized with no check as to whether the patients were able to accurately comprehend the information that was transmitted to them.
  • It is therefore important to reduce the cognitive load on the elderly patients and help them collaborate easily with their providers to plan their medication routine.

Dr. Morrow discussed the design of an EMR-based system called the Medtable to aid the elderly population. This system has 3 interfaces: a set up interface that would allow clinicians to set up patients’ medication list, a collaboration interface that would allow clinicians to reconcile medication information with patients and educate patients on the times they need to take medications, and finally a print-out interface that allows clinicians to provide a printout of the medication scheduling information to patients to take home. This system is under clinical investigation currently and the expectation is that this would improve patient outcomes by improving the collaboration between patients and health care providers and reducing the cognitive demand on the patients.

Photo credit: Ernes via Wikimedia Commons.

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