Monday 10 April 2017


Here's a scenario that every caregiver will recognise: Your elderly parent has fallen and you've left work to be with her at the ER. Tests will be performed including x-rays and it will be a few hours before a diagnosis is made. A paid caregiver for your parent is due at home in an hour and you need to cancel that shift.  You need to arrange for someone to pick your 10 year old up from school and your older teen will have to be alerted to make supper at home. The doctor diagnoses a bad sprain, prescribes a boot/cast, painkillers and physiotherapy. Suddenly, the care plan for your loved one has changed in ways that effect you, your family and your loved one's paid caregivers. A feeling of dread descends on you because you know that it will be impossible to keep up at work and at home if you spend hours communicating the roles and responsibilities of a changed regime to all concerned. Disaster looms because messages won't get through and mistakes will be made. How is it possible to communicate complex messages about care to so many people who need to know?

The only tool that I know of to enable private, highly secure communications between home and health care professionals is Tyze Personal Networks in Canada or Community Tyze in the US. There are some similar tools available for patients in particular hospitals, but most care communication online tools do not have the data security to enable the self-storage and secure sharing of medical and financial records or wills. A bank-grade level of online security is required for that degree of privacy. Tyze has that level and it's owned by Saint Elizabeth Health Care, a highly respected provider in North America. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. Tyze Personal Networks and Community Tyze are both HIPAA compliant. They are patient/family directed and password enabled.

The devil, as they say, is in the details. One of the main barriers to effective communication for caregivers, their families and their paid home helpers is that communication often occurs between just two people and key messages must be passed to others on the team. It's not always clear who has this responsibility to communicate things like treatment directives or appointment times. Some people prefer texting, while others use only email. Privacy is often cited as a reason for gate-keeping communications, and sometimes this is a reasonable stance. But other times, a network of care that crosses sectors between home and health care systems needs to occur for the sake of patient safety and caregiver sanity. In the Tyze network site that we use for our son Nicholas, we communicate with all his paid carers using the agenda, files, and carewall (looks and functions similar to a Facebook page). But Nick's physician only communicates using Tyze private messaging with the head nurse. We decided at the outset how we wanted to manage communicating based on the need to know and how individuals wanted to receive alerts about new Tyze activity in their email inboxes.

If you need a secure, online care coordination tool that enables the patient and family caregivers to speak with health care providers in a secure environment, consider Tyze. Ask your disease association, your outpatient center or your community support worker to inquire about a group package for patients in your area. In the USA, contact Mary Bryant at [email protected] and in Canada, contact Mary Lou Ackerman at [email protected].

For more about how Tyze works, watch this video.