Embracing Caregivers’ Perspectives in the Development of Technology

Written by on April 12, 2024

In the rapidly evolving field of healthcare technology, the voices of caregivers are often overlooked despite their critical role in patients’ healthcare journeys. The 2024 A2 National Symposium, held March 19-20th, emphasized the need for integrating caregiver perspectives into the design and development of healthcare technologies. Through a Lived Experience Panel, the symposium embraced and highlighted the perspectives of caregivers Dee Fowlkes, Lily Liu, Susan Jackewicz, and Marie Maloney.

Dee Fowlkes voiced the importance of inclusivity in research initiatives, advocating for the active involvement of caregivers and patients from various communities and backgrounds. She urged symposium attendees to focus on real challenges faced by patients and caregivers and to develop practical technological solutions to address them. Dee encouraged reflection on whether emerging technologies genuinely enhance the well-being of both the patient and the caregiver.

Susan Jackewicz echoed Dee’s sentiments, highlighting the significance of problem-driven innovation. She cautioned against creating solutions without authentic problems to solve and urged developers to consider how technology can make caregivers “anti-fragile” by empowering them with tools that genuinely alleviate burdens.

Speaking from personal experience, Lily Liu shared just how resourceful caregivers can be when financial constraints necessitate it. She emphasized the value of listening to caregivers’ cost-savings “hacks” and incorporating them into the development of novel, cost-effective technologies. Lily’s insights conveyed the need for affordable and accessible health technology solutions.

Identifying barriers to technological engagement and access, Marie Maloney stressed the harmful impacts assumptions can have. She noted that many healthcare technologies available today are designed for patient usage, although it is often caregivers who utilize them. This assumption can result in the technology failing to deliver the intended value. Marie recommended diverse representation in the data sample utilized for product development and advocated for technologies that are aligned with caregivers’ needs.

It is imperative that caregivers and other stakeholder perspectives are prioritized in the development and implementation of new technologies. By doing so, we can ensure that technological advancements are not only innovative but also genuinely responsive to the needs of caregivers and those under their care.

author: Christine Dettelis/Stakeholder Core, Senior Research Program Coordinator