Wearables & EHR: A Love Story in the Making

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Wearables & EHR: A Love Story in the Making

TL;DR
Most wearables are suited to fitness tracking capabilities, with recent releases of new wearables the question arises when will this technology incorporate more advanced healthcare monitoring?

Wearable Technology for Healthcare IT

On Friday, Apple officially released their highly anticipated AppleWatch. The latest in a long line of successful products, the AppleWatch has a high bar of expectations to meet, and many are already questioning its value. It also faces several competitors already on the market, such as the Samsung Gear, Pebble Time, Microsoft Band, and many more. What strikes consumers is the novelty of wearable technology, and, as it continues to advance, everyone is eager to take advantage of the new products. Considering these innovations from a health IT perspective, it brings to light the possibilities this could create for health care.

This is by no means a new discussion, but certainly one that continues to evolve with the release of each device. Last year, we wrote about Google Glass and the progress it has made in medicine. While it has its own appeal to mass-market consumers, it has made its greatest impact in the medical field. Smart watches have a similar potential to transform the way health information is collected and shared, which could be revolutionary for improving quality and delivery of patient care.

The majority of the conversation regarding wearables has been geared towards the fitness tracking capabilities these devices offer. Being able to monitor your heart rate, sleep patterns, the number of steps you walk, how many calories you’ve burned, all with a couple of taps of the finger and flicks of the wrist, is fairly inventive. From a fitness standpoint, this could prove to be a substantial motivating factor in promoting health and wellness among the public.

However, going a step further, these devices are capable of much more than that. In fact, they are already starting to become an important tool for patients dealing with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. It only seems natural to directly feed that information to medical providers.

Integrating these devices with our EHR programs enables a cohesive structure for sharing data from patient to provider, as well as between providers. Facilitating data transfer between the systems could aid in collecting sizeable amounts of patient information that would:

  • Allow physicians to monitor their patients remotely and more periodically
  • Generate larger sample sizes in order to conduct scientific studies
  • Provide health data to professionals on a regular basis
  • Expand the reach of health and wellness programs

Because the data is patient-generated, it offers greater credibility as well. By incorporating it into the existing system, we can work on developing a more efficient and well-connected health care environment.

With interoperability being such a prominent issue in the EHR market, this little affair could be just what the doctor ordered.