Abstract [from journal]
Individuals with heart failure (HF) typically live in the community and are cared for at home by family caregivers. These caregivers often lack supportive services and the time to access those services when available. Technology can play a role in conveniently bringing needed support to these caregivers. The purpose of this article is to describe the implementation of a virtual health coaching intervention with caregivers of HF patients ("Virtual Caregiver Coach for You"-ViCCY). A randomized controlled trial is currently in progress to test the efficacy of the intervention to improve self-care. In this trial, 250 caregivers will be randomly assigned to receive health information via a tablet computer (hereafter, tablet) plus 10 live health coaching sessions delivered virtually (intervention group; n = 125) or health information via a tablet only (control group; n = 125). Each tablet has specific health information websites preloaded. To inform others embarking on similar technology projects, here we highlight the technology challenges encountered with the first 15 caregivers who received the ViCCY intervention and the solutions used to overcome those challenges. Several adaptations to the implementation of ViCCY were needed to address hardware, software, and network connectivity challenges. Even with a well-designed research implementation plan, it is important to re-examine strategies at every step to solve implementation barriers and maximize fidelity to the intervention. Researcher and interventionist flexibility in adapting to new strategies is essential when implementing a technology-based virtual health coaching intervention.