As I watched the tears of frustration stream down my mom’s face back in 2008, I made a promise...
The hardest working part of the US healthcare system: Caregivers
I come from family of doctors. Growing up, I always took it for granted that healthcare was convenient and easy. Whenever anyone in my family needed a medical appointment, all it took was a call from my father to a colleague and “bingo” there was an appointment on the books – usually for the next day.
So when I returned to Nashville in 2008 to spend time with my grandmother as she was nearing the end of her life, I was shocked by how the healthcare system I once saw as easy and convenient had driven my mom to tears as she played the roll of primary caregiver to my grandmother. My mom, married to a doctor and with a sister and brother in law who are doctors, was left wallowing for answers and help on what to do for my grandmother. The healthcare system that was treating my grandmother was woefully falling short when it came to supporting and educating my mom on what she should be doing to help my grandmother.
This week the NY Times ran an article on the “gaping hole” in the US healthcare industry: “Caregivers aren’t supported, and America overlooks their importance”. The article stated “Americans spend so much time debating so many aspects of health care, including insurance and access. Almost none of that covers the actual impossibility and hardship faced by the many millions of friends and family members who are caregivers. It’s hugely disrupting and expensive. There’s no system for it. It’s a gaping hole.”
As I watched the tears of frustration stream down my mom’s face back in 2008, I made a promise to do what little part I could. At the time, my business partner and I were starting Dialog Health to enable two way texting as a way to remind, educate, and support patients on key things they needed to do relevant to their health. The day after I made the promise to help caregivers, we designed a caregiver communication option in the Dialog Health platform. To this day it is the feature in our system of which I am most proud.
Let me end by saying that most of you reading this blog post are likely to be caregivers one day. If you know someone who is currently a caregiver, give them a hug and hand. Believe me, one day you will want both as well. At the very least, send them a text of encouragement - their phones will still get it even when they are in the “gaping hole".