Apple Watch put to the test for patient engagement

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

Nebraska Medicine is joining the growing ranks of providers who are trying out the Apple Watch to improve patient engagement.

The health system, comprised of The Nebraska Medical Center, Bellevue Medical Center and UNMC Physicians, is working with its EHR provider, Epic, to make several apps available to patients, as well as one targeted at physicians.

[See also: Epic makes another play for mHealth access to EHRs]

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the satisfaction of our patients,” Michael Ash, MD, chief transformation officer at Nebraska Medicine, recently told WOWT NBC Omaha. “We recognize that as more of our patients use devices like the Apple Watch, we not only have to be able to use that technology to initially provide convenience for them, but we also have to envision how we can also improve patient outcomes via use of the device in the future.”

Like so many other health systems experimenting with the form factor, Nebraska Health sees the Apple Watch as a quick and relatively unobtrusive way to get the patient's attention and pass along simple information, such as a medication reminder, upcoming appointment or a note from one's doctor.

First out of the gate is the Epic MyChart app for Apple Watch, which gives users access to messages from care providers, appointment information, notices (billing details, health reminders and test results) and medication information. Another app in development would enable users to receive quick "tap" messages from care providers, while yet another would enable them to reschedule upcoming appointments if an earlier time slot opened up.

[See also: Is the Apple Watch a pioneer or pinata?]

Another app builds off Epic's Haiku mobile app for the iPhone, giving physicians access to patient records and schedules and enabling them to dictate a note or message into the patient's record or to the patient.

“It's great to see Nebraska Medicine help lead the way on patient engagement with the Apple Watch," Sumit Rana, Epic's senior vice president for research and development, told the news station. “Wearables such as the Apple Watch have great potential to empower patients as active participants in their own healthcare and wellness while improving the overall care experience.”


[See also: Smartwatches are missing a crucial market]