Seeking mHealth innovation in the Big Easy

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

Many residents of New Orleans and surrounding communities deal with chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, and chances are they're looking for a better way to manage their conditions at home and work more closely with their doctors. Now the local health system – long a pioneer in mHealth innovation – is looking for the public's help in developing wearables and mHealth solutions that would help these people.

The Ochsner Health System is partnering with GE Healthcare and The Idea Village to sponsor the "Wear Your Health" challenge, which would identify mHealth solutions that target behavior management in the chronic disease population. Interested parties have until September 15 to submit ideas focused on wearable technology or mobile applications.

“Chronic disease is a particularly serious health and community concern in Louisiana, which is ranked fifth in the nation for the highest rates of diabetes and heart disease and fourth in the nation for the highest rates of cancer and high blood pressure,” Richard Milani, MD, Ochsner's Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, said in a press release. “This challenge aligns with our work underway today through innovationOchsner or iO to identify the behaviors that drive improved wellness and empower patients to take control of their health. The ideas generated through this challenge can provide new solutions to address these issues in our community but also extend these findings to patients across the U.S.”

According to officials, 10 entries will be identified as Phase 1 winners and will have access to a cumulative $10,000 prize pool to continue developing their products for Phase 2. That phase will culminate in three finalists sharing a prize pool of $15,000. A winner will be declared during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week on March 11-18, 2016.

Ochsner is currently piloting the Apple Watch as a means of connecting with chronic disease patients at home. The health system, among the first to adopt the Apple HealthKit platform in 2014, handed out the smartwatch to dozens of patients in the Ochsner Hypertension Digital Medicine Program and is charting medication compliance with those patients through a wireless blood pressure cuff and its Epic EMR system. While blood pressure readings are transmitted wirelessly through HealthKit into the EMR, the patients get medication reminders and renewal notifications, feedback from physicians and activity tracking and exercise reminders on the watch.

"We're trying to use any and all tools at our disposal," Milani, who sports an Apple Watch on his own wrist and is pushing the device out to patients with high blood pressure, told mHealth News earlier this year. "We're doing this on the hope that some of these tools can be beneficial."

Ochsner, GE Healthcare and Ideal Village are looking for that creative spark from the community.

“In recent years, wearables have been disrupting the healthcare industry. The ability to manage patient behavior through wearables ultimately allows for a more personalized patient experience and treatment plan,” Brad Jergenson, GE Healthcare's chief marketing officer for the U.S. and Canada, said in the press release. “The ‘Wear Your Health’ challenge is a great opportunity to bring not only prototypes, but ideas, to life. The goal is to drive the future of chronic disease management by empowering patients to lead healthy lifestyles through connectivity and technology, which aligns with GE Healthcare’s overall mission to provide quality, accessible and affordable healthcare to all.”

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