EHRs embrace health and fitness data

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

The hot trend these days seems to be integrating data from wearables and other home-based monitoring platforms into the electronic health record.

Fresh off a similar partnership with Cerner, Validic has announced the integration of its digital health platform with MEDITECH, whose EHR platform is in use in some 2,400 health systems worldwide. The deal will enable MEDITECH's platform to pull in data from clinical, fitness and wellness devices, ranging from consumer-facing wearables to home-based patient monitoring platforms.

“MEDITECH is focused on advancing our population health and patient engagement strategy, which is why we're ramping up our remote patient monitoring and telehealth offerings,” Howard Messing, the Westwood, Mass.-based company's president and CEO, said in a press release. “Today's healthcare environment is value-based and outcome-driven, which means healthcare providers need to evaluate every aspect of their patients' health, not just those factors that contributed to their latest doctor's appointment. Providers will have a fuller, more complete understanding of their patients' health and habits, ultimately benefiting providers and patients alike."

[See also: Are providers finally finding value in wearables?]

Validic co-founder and CEO Ryan Beckland added in the release: "As healthcare continues to shift more toward accountable care, healthcare organizations are looking for ways to quickly and securely access patient data to deliver more meaningful population management, patient engagement, and disease state analytics.”

Earlier this week, Epic unveiled a partnership with Vocera Communications to tie the latter's mobile communications capabilities into its EHR, and news leaked out in February that the company is developing its own app store. eClinicalWorks, meanwhile, recently announced that it's pulling data from wearable devices and fitness trackers into its healow personal health record platform, with that data eventually being made available to the EHR via the patient.

"Patients and their doctors want access to their data at any time, not just when they're in the doctor's office," eClinicalWorks co-founder and CEO Girish Navani told mHealth News. He said the company's healow subsidiary is focusing on data from proven fitness tracking companies, like Fitbit, iHealth, Jawbone and Withings, to give clinicians the ability to curate reliable information and pass it back to their patients as actionable data.

"At the end of the day, you as a patient are doing things that I as a doctor want to know," Navani said. "This improves patient engagement (and makes) the relationship more meaningful."

Another player in the game is Mana Health, which has unveiled the ManaCloud Platform. The New York company, which got its start developing digital health tools for health information exchanges, said its new, cloud-based platform connects EMRs with patient-generated data from apps and connected devices, giving consumers, payers and providers access to relevant information through a unified API.

[See also: The next-generation EHR: specialized and speedy]

"Health information exchanges (HIEs), hospitals and health systems can now leverage the deep investment Mana Health has made in unified data infrastructure to enhance patient data access, care coordination and chronic care management," Mana Health co-founder and CEO Chris Bradley said in a press release, while noting the new offering dovetails quite nicely with stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements. 

This new trend doesn't come without its concerns, however. The primary reason that wearables like fitness bands and smartwatches haven't caught on with the provider community is that providers aren't convinced of the reliability of consumer-facing data or the value of fitness and wellness to the clinical record. As these new integrations move forward, expect clinicians and EMR providers to put emphasis on sifting through consumer data  and finding a way to both verify its accuracy and enable clinicians to get only what they want or need.