Are providers finally finding value in wearables?

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

The developer of an mHealth platform for diabetics is now incorporating biometric data from wearable fitness trackers, giving diabetics and their caregivers the opportunity to use health and wellness data in clinical decision support.

The announcement by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Glooko is significant in that it brings the immensely popular consumer-facing wearables market that much closer to the healthcare providers, many of whom haven't been all that interested in fitness bands or smartwatches yet.

Glooko is now integrating activity, weight and blood pressure data from more than 30 leading wearable monitors, including Fitbit, iHealth, Jawbone, Moves, RunKeeper, Strava and Withings, into its remote monitoring and population management platform. This allows caregivers and patients to track activity data alongside blood glucose levels, giving both a more accurate picture into a diabetic's daily activities and how they affect one's health.

"Access to biometric data like activity and blood pressure means our platform can be used to correlate blood glucose to lifestyle behavior to a degree not previously possible," Glooko CEO Rick Altinger said in a press release. "In the future, Glooko intends to use physician prescriptions to drive algorithms that utilize a patient's level of activity along with retrospective glucose levels to make medication and insulin adjustment recommendations."

By synching data from wearables into a cloud-based platform through its MeterSync Blue technology, the company is also addressing a long-standing issue in chronic care management: patient engagement and adherence. Clinicians have long worried that only the self-motivated will manually enter their fitness information, and that a majority of the diabetic population most in need of care management won't make sure that data is available to caregivers.

Glooko has been working with the Boston-based Joslin Diabetes Center on several initiatives to improve health management for diabetics. Of particular interest recently is the treatment of hypoglycemia, a potentially fatal situation in which a diabetic's blood-sugar level drops low enough to eventually induce a coma. For diabetics who aren't aware of their blood-sugar levels, this is especially dangerous.

"Physical activity is one of the major causes of hypoglycemia in individuals with diabetes," Howard Wolpert, MD, director of Joslin's Institute of Technology Translation, said in the press release. "Daytime exercise will often have a delayed effect on the glucose levels and lead to nighttime hypoglycemia. The integration of activity data from wearable devices into the Glooko-Joslin HypoMap system will help individual patients identify their own individual specific activity threshold that is predictive of overnight lows. We will be able to provide patients with alerts when they reach their hypoglycemia risk threshold, so that they can take preemptive steps – such as adjusting their insulin doses or eating a snack – to prevent hypoglycemia."

Glooko's announcement is the latest in a string of efforts by healthcare providers to make data from wearables more meaningful. Expect more as companies like Apple and Microsoft – two of the leaders in a crowded market - look to partner with EHR providers and health systems to create clinical use cases.

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