We are in the midst of a technological revolution. Billions of dollars have been spent by businesses and government entities to harness the power of automation and digital information as a means to increase the efficiency of their operations and improve the service they can provide to their customers.
This digital transformation has proven to be a double-edged sword for individuals and caregivers. There is no question that we are reaping the benefits of faster information processing, improved information exchange, and expanded services. But, we must harness the power of digital information on a personal level to avoid becoming analog refugees in a digital world. As you navigate this new digital territory for yourself and your family, you will want to arm yourself with 3 key ingredients to success – permission, information and imagination.
The expanded use of digital information has led to increased privacy and security concerns which has resulted in increased regulation around privacy protection and access to information. Individuals and caregivers are now required to formally prove their permission to access information and manage transactions. Healthcare and financial transactions are by far the most heavily regulated, and caregivers need to make sure that they have all of the documents necessary to manage the care and affairs of their loved ones.
The most critical permission documents for a caregiver to consider are HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) permissions to access health information, Health Care Power of Attorney documents that allow you to make health decisions for someone else who is not able to make those decisions for themselves, and Financial Power of Attorney documents that allow you to manage financial affairs on someone else’s behalf.
Health Information (HIPAA) Access forms – Make sure HIPAA information access authorizations are on file with each of your health care providers. These permission documents are not universal and are usually limited to an individual provider or provider group.
Health Care Power of Attorney – Make sure you have access to your health care power of attorney documents at all times. Even with all of the advances we have seen in technology, there is no single electronic repository for these documents, and you may find it difficult to access the copies that have been electronically filed by your providers in an emergency.
Financial Power of Attorney – Financial power of attorney documents that have been legally prepared and filed (when required) are intended to be universal. However, many financial and legal institutions require a secondary verification process for these universal documents that can take weeks / months to complete. Many entities have specific Power of Attorney forms and process that you can complete with them directly that will avoid the secondary verification process.
Having the right information in the right place and at the right time will save you time, money, and frustration. Access to the right information could even save your life! Make the time to organize all of the personal, household, health, financial, and legal information that you need to manage the care of your loved ones, and make sure you have that information at your fingertips.
Find an information management solution that works for you and make the commitment to update this important information at least once a year. And, make sure you share important information with your care companions – your trusted family, friends and professional advisors who will step in to manage your affairs in the event you are not able to manage them for yourself.
There are some great new digital personal information management tools available on the market today, including the My Data Diary+ family information management software solution, that will help you organize and securely digitize all of your information so that you can access it whenever and wherever you need it.
The digital revolution has led to an explosion of creative new solutions and services that can help us solve our caregiving challenges. But, harnessing the power of these new services and solutions does require a bit of imagination on your part and a willingness to embrace new ways to solve old problems. Below are a few of my favorite creative solutions to age-old problems that have emerged as part of this latest technological revolution:
|Shopping for a hard to find or specialty item?||Amazon Prime will deliver just about anything to any location. This can be a real blessing for long-distance caregivers!|
|Having trouble keeping track of your current medications?||Take a picture of each prescription bottle with your smartphone. These photos will provide you with complete dosage and refill information anytime you need it.|
|Mobility issues making grocery shopping a challenge?||Grocery delivery and pick-up services allow you to “shop” online and get the products you want delivered to your car or your home.|
|Can’t get to the bank during normal business hours?||Online banking and remote bank deposits offer secure solutions that will save you a trip to the bank.|
|Don’t drive and need to get to an important appointment?||Uber, Lyft, and other specialty rideshare services have expanded transportation options for individuals that don’t drive.|
Having the permission and information you need will allow you and your family effectively engage in an increasingly digital world. Combine that with the ability to imagine and embrace new solutions to old problems, and you can truly harness the power of technology to streamline and simplify the business of your life!
Written by: Darra Wray
Darra Wray is a Care Consultant and Certified Senior Advisor with My Care Companions in Boise, Idaho, a company she founded to streamline and simplify the administrative side of care. You can learn more about My Care Companions and the My Data Diary+ family information management software tool at www.mycarecompanions.com.