The Growth Channel

Get out ahead of Apple Watch

By Caitlin Stuhan

Jawbones, FitBits, and soon Apple Watch: over 20% of Americans own a health tracking device, and 10% use them every day. The data they’re collecting present an enormous opportunity for providers to transform care processes, patient relationships, and outcomes.

Mo’ apps, Mo’ problems

But making that data useful is an equally enormous challenge. With over 43,700 medical apps available in the Apple store alone (and only 31% of those intended for clinical use), no one has yet been able to connect the mass of data being produced to a patient’s EHR, let alone filter to capture only meaningful data.

How will your organization integrate these new data sources—and increasing amounts of data—into your health management system?

Related: Your new app: One in 43,000?

Solutions coming…

Big-name tech companies are working to solve this problem. Apple unveiled its cloud-based information platform known as HealthKit in June. HealthKit comprises a developers’ toolkit and data model for sharing health and fitness data between consumers, providers, and third parties.

Similarly, Microsoft partnered with GE to craft the “Windows for health care” and fuse Microsoft’s health management software, HealthVault, with GE’s health information exchange and clinical products. These major technology players are working to offer a “hub” that connects various third-party devices into a single source, like an EHR or patient portal.

…But some providers aren’t waiting around

Apple and Microsoft are close to offering a solution, but some progressive providers are already bridging the gap between patient-facing devices and their EHRs. Spectrum Health, a 1,487-bed provider system in Michigan, developed a home-grown app that allows patients to send reports to their physicians that the doctors can then use to inform their care plans.

Patients can use their smartphones to collect health data using mobile devices and apps at home—for example, their HbA1c level, blood pressure, or heart rate during exercise. Then, patients can open the app and input the readings from their devices and send it directly to their physicians via secure messaging. The messaging feature is supported by the Spectrum MyHealth patient portal, which in turn records the reports in the patient’s EHR.

While the Spectrum Health app cannot upload data into a patient’s record, the process imitates the integration by connecting patients to their health record. In other words, Spectrum has temporarily bypassed the need for a cloud-based hub by offering a mobile connection between patients and their EHR. In doing so, they’re strengthening relationships with patients ranging from healthy fitness buffs to those with multiple chronic conditions. They’re also learning which data is most useful for which purposes, and what data management processes they need to have in place for the future.

To learn how your organization can get useful and actionable patient data from mobile monitoring devices, read our study on remote patient monitoring.

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