Keeping track of health information for children and the elderly has always been a complicated task. Care for these groups has slowly moved to the Internet to make their personal information easier to manage and access by their loved ones. But does that convenience endanger the privacy of their information at all?
This week on “Take Care,” hosts Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen talk to Jonathan Schwartz about the benefits of using a new website to manage loved ones’ health information. Schwartz is the co-founder and chief executive officer of CareZone, an online service that enables families to organize care of their relatives.
Schwartz said his experiences with his own family members made him think about this new care system.
“One of my first exposures to this was 13 years ago,” Schwartz says. “I had my first child, and as with any new parent, there’s a bunch of information that I needed to manage, some of it was health related. And between my wife and me, we didn’t know where to do it so we were passing emails back and forth.”
Schwartz said the problem came up again when his parents “got older overnight” and he suddenly needed to keep track of a colossal amount of information like emergency contacts, clinicians, hospitals and prescriptions.
Sometimes people might use Facebook, where they would be connected to friends and family, to get in touch with them to share various information or updates about loved ones’ health. However, Schwartz says Facebook is not subject to HIPAA, a federal law that imposes stiff restrictions on the sharing of one’s health information.
Schwartz says that CareZone is a safe, easy alternative to a site whose purpose is social networking like Facebook.
“Just as LinkedIn is very good at helping you find a job, we wanted to provide a service on phones and on the web that would just be entirely organized around the idea that you had privacy with paramount and then productivity related to taking care of somebody was also paramount,” he says.
Schwartz also says that using CareZone to share information with other family members is easier than writing medical history written down on an index card or in a notebook.
“Just the idea of having a safe place that is designed for someone who is aware of technology but isn’t an expert in technology and then making that available ubiquitously wherever you are,” Schwartz says.
Schwartz also says that he’s gotten a lot of positive response from those who have been using the service.
“We have lots of people who say ‘Thank god you’re there. My dad fell down, I took him to the hospital, they asked what meds he was on and I just gave them my phone.’ So having something that’s purpose is made for care and provides a singular consolidated platform allows you to leave the notebook and index cards and instead just have it on your phone wherever you are.”
Schwartz added that patients themselves can use CareZone if they feel at all uneasy about their family members keeping track of their information.
Schwartz says that roughly half of the seniors that are being cared for are in charge of their own CareZone accounts.