The population in the United States is aging. The tools used in the 20th century to help the elderly of the 21st century are out of date. Birth rates have fallen and at the same time, people are living longer. The age demographic in this country is inevitably trending upward. The result is that there are fewer resources and fewer children of working age available to aid this population. This puts a stress not only on the resources of our national health care system in general but also on the individuals personally involved in the care of an elder.
As our population ages and baby boomers become a greater portion of our population, we all are irrevocably forced to confront the issues associated with an aging population. How many of us know the name of our parents’ primary care physician, what their daily medication ritual is or even what end of life choices they have made?
While many may not want to think about these issues, they are emotionally troubling and logistically difficult, ignoring the problems won’t make them go away. How many of us know the name of our parents’ primary care physician, what their daily medication ritual is or even what end of life choices they have made?
Dovetail Care created a tool to help coordinate services provided by medical professionals and individual caregivers. Dovetail’s software program is a multi-layered, online tool that helps seniors and their family members address the gamut of issues that face the elderly. Dovetail not only empowers people but also aids their caregivers and loved ones by providing updated information and resources that are available from anywhere at any time.
The inspiration that led to Dovetail
Dovetail founder, Monica Stynchula (MSW, MPH, and CPHIMS), was inspired to create the website after the illness of an elder parent. Despite her background in the health field, she still found herself walking around with an accordion file box full of medical and other records. The problem became even worse, however, after her parent left the hospital. Once the institutional presence of a hospital is gone, managing the recovery of a senior is even more difficult. The care provided by doctors, pharmacists, home health care workers and insurances companies all have to be coordinated, which often is an overwhelming task for most.
This is extremely problematic because of the significance of transitional care. According to the study “Hospital Readmission Among Participants in a Transitional Case Management (TCM) Program” published by the American Journal of Managed Care, only 12.66 percent of program participants engaged in transitional case management were readmitted to hospital compared to 35.85 percent of patients not participating in transitional case management within 30 days. Additionally, those who did not participate in TCM in the first 30 days were four times as likely to require readmission.
So how does Dovetail Care help address the transitional care issue? According to Monica, “Dovetail Care’s innovative software design ties all forms of communication into one intuitive simple design. We collect, store, transmit and analyzes data to optimize its usefulness and timeliness for access anytime, anywhere.” This cloud-based system allows users access to documents and resources from anywhere, while at the same time keeping information secure and free from the technical issues that can be involved with storage on a personal computer.
Dovetail’s multi-tier approach includes:
- An assessment and tools feature that allows the user to answer questions and provide information to caregivers about their daily lives.
- The communication portal allows for real time adjustments and alerts for all people involved in the senior’s care.
- The care portal provides downloadable access and transmission of the senior’s records such as Medicare Blue Button and Social Security when needed.
- A financial and legal planning section helps to create an understandable picture of the senior’s resources and how they are used as well as giving access to the Commission on Law and Aging Tool kit designed to help seniors and caregivers with difficult end-of-life issues.
- In the My Vault area, users can store all vital records in one location of easy access for wherever they are.
- The resource manager provides links more than 80 different government and nonprofit websites such as healthfinder.gov available to the senior or any caregiver or loved one to help manage the health of the user.
Accessibility is key
Perhaps Dovetail Care’s best feature is its accessibility. With a plan of working with medical institutions and insurance companies, Dovetail endeavors to become financially accessible to seniors as a value-added service. Recognizing that the elder population is both in need of the most assistance and often the least able to afford it, Dovetail Care is working to make its software part of a combination of care, one that is not an extra cost, but another tool available to those that need it most.
The elder population is in a unique position. It is growing and in need of the most help, but in the position to help itself the least. After hospitalization, their recovery times are longer, their complications are greater and the resources at their disposal to deal with these problems are fewer than for the younger population. Managing these problems is important to all of us, and Dovetail Care is a tool to help do just that.