Using technology to help caregivers manage medications for dementia patients

PICTURE: Researchers from the Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin are creating, with caregivers as co-designers, Helping the Helpers, an application (app) to support informal caregivers (often family or friends) … see After

Credit: Institut Regenstrief

INDIANAPOLIS – Most of the six million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias rely on caregivers, usually family or friends, to help them manage their medications. Researchers from the Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin received a grant to create an app to support these caregivers.

“Caregivers are often under-trained, underfunded and underfunded to manage medications. This can lead to significant burden, stress and even inappropriate medication use,” said Richard Holden, PhD, co-head of the project. “At this point, the technology has not been used to help this population. Using a participatory user-centric design, we plan to create an app that makes this potentially complex business a bit easier for them and leads to better drug adherence and safety. Dr Holden is a researcher at the Regenstrief Institute and professor and chair of health and wellness design at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington.

The app is called Helping the Helpers, and the project uses the three phases of participatory user-centered design. The team will start by interviewing and assessing the needs of caregivers. Then these caregivers will work with the team to create the app with features and functionality that will be useful to them. As co-designers, caregivers will participate in all design activities and have a say in the final product as members of the research team. The final phase will test the app more extensively to see if caregivers can and will use it.

“This kind of support is lacking for these caregivers, and technology offers an ideal way to reach them,” said Nicole Werner, PhD, co-leader of the project and associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. . “But an app is useless if these caregivers can’t or won’t use it. That’s why we involve them in the design process from the start, so that we can create something that effectively solves the difficulties that them and others like them are. oriented. ”

“User-Centered Design is the industry benchmark process for product design,” said Dr. Holden. “Whenever technology is used, it has to meet the needs of end users. We are grateful to the National Institute on Aging for supporting this user-centered design approach. ”


This research is supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, grant R21AG072418.

Other researchers involved in the project are Malaz Boustani, MD, MPH from Regenstrief and IU School of Medicine and Aaron Ganci, MFA from Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI. Noll Campbell, PharmD of Regenstrief and Purdue University College of Pharmacy is a consultant.

The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official opinions of the National Institutes of Health.

About the Regenstrief Institute Founded in 1969 in Indianapolis, the Regenstrief Institute is a local, national and global leader dedicated to a world where better information enables people to end disease and achieve true health. A key research partner of Indiana University, Regenstrief and her researchers are responsible for a growing number of major innovations and studies in healthcare. Examples range from developing global health information technology standards that enable the use and interoperability of electronic health records, to improving patient-physician communications, to creating models of care. that inform practice and improve the lives of patients around the world.

Sam Regenstrief, a nationally successful entrepreneur from Connersville, Indiana, founded the institute with the goal of making healthcare more efficient and accessible to all. His vision continues to guide the institute’s research mission.

About UI Faculty of Medicine
The IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the United States and is ranked among the nation’s top medical schools annually by US News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to cutting-edge medical research, and a rich campus life in nine cities across Indiana, including rural and urban areas still known for their quality of life.

About the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering
UW-Madison College of Engineering is one of the nation’s top engineering schools, consisting of eight degree-granting departments and one of the nation’s oldest and largest continuing education programs for professional engineers. . The college develops the leaders, knowledge, and technologies that improve lives now and create a better future. It draws on the strength and spirit of collaboration of one of the best research universities in the world.

About Richard J. Holden, PhD, MS
In addition to his role as a Research Scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, Richard J. Holden, PhD, MS, is the Chief Healthcare Engineer for the Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Science and the Dean’s Eminent Scholar, Professor and Chairman inaugural of Health & Wellness Design at Indiana University-Bloomington School of Public Health.

About Nicole Werner, PhD
Nicole Werner, PhD, is Harvey D. Spangler Associate Professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering, Associate Director, Wisconsin Institute for Healthcare Systems Engineering and Care Research Technology and Small Business Liaison Manager at Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

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