Health Care and Technology

Hospice of Michigan develops mobile app for end-of-life care

February 20, 2013
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Hospice of Michigan develops mobile app for end-of-life care
A partial screen shot of Hospice of Michigan’s mobile app, HOM Cares. Courtesy Hospice of Michigan

Beginning Feb. 20, Hospice of Michigan is providing its patients and their family members with a free mobile app that will help them stay connected with the teams caring for their loved one.

Studies have shown that 50 percent of family members do not live near enough to their ailing family members to participate actively in their care. HOM wants to close that distance so that caregivers, patients and their friends and family members can stay connected no matter where they are.

The HOM Cares mobile app alerts family and friends when their loved one has received a visit: they can see a picture and read a short bio of the HOM team member making the visit; understand the role of that team member — whether medical, spiritual, social work, volunteer or another type of support and see the date and duration of the visit.

“HOM Cares subscribers are not simply getting a notification of a visit — rather, they are getting a picture of the nurse, social worker or spiritual caregiver who is taking care of their loved one,” said Marcie Hillary, executive director of Hospice of Michigan/West Michigan. “They can match faces and names to backgrounds and bios so that family members can get to know our staff as if they still lived down the street.”

When a family subscribes to HOM Cares, one family member is designated as the primary contact and given responsibility for managing the network. The family member controls access allowing family members, friends and neighbors to become part of the circle of caring at their discretion.

Hillary said the new mobile app will change the way HOM is delivering care to patients and their families, and that it fits with the organization’s commitment to utilizing new technology in providing the best end-of-life care possible.

“We have always had a strong commitment to the innovative use of technology, whether enabling our nurses to use PDAs at the bedside to order medications or equipping our care teams with traveling offices,” she said. “We will continue to pioneer new ways to make technology benefit our patients.

“We see HOM Cares as a digital solution that will enable families and friends to create a private social network surrounding their loved one — a hub of expression, if you will," she said. "The new app will enhance patient comfort, care and communication, giving our care team the opportunity to interact in real time with an extended network of patient family and friends.”

In the video below, a user demonstrates the HOM Cares app.

The app was developed with a grant from Verizon Wireless for $24,500 and a matching in-kind donation provide by Compuware, the organization that developed the app for HOM.

“This anytime, anywhere access will ease the hospice experience, truly making a difference by providing peace of mind for people during a challenging time in their lives,” said Bob Kennedy, vice president of strategic services at Compuware and HOM Foundation board member. “We are thrilled to have been able to build this application for HOM.”

HOM has plans to expand the app’s capabilities, allowing greater two-way communication between the care team and family, such as sharing of text messages or pictures.

Additionally, the organization said it is exploring ways to expand interaction after a patient death that might include sharing of family photo albums, comments or memories, providing details on funeral arrangements and connecting those mourning a loss with grief support and related services.

The free app is available to current Android and iOS device users, who can download it from the Google Play app store or Apple App Store.

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