Partners Healthcare links mHealth data to its EMR

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

In what may be one of the first integrations of its kind in the country, providers in the Boston-based Partners HealthCare system can now view patient data collected from mobile devices on their electronic medical record platform.

The population of mobile health monitoring data, including vital signs such as blood pressure, weight and blood glucose, in the EMR was made possible by the Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners that creates and validates the technology.

The process holds promise for millions of patients who require or would benefit from real-time monitoring, including those with chronic conditions or recently released from the hospital.

"By linking the center's remote monitoring database to the Partners medical record system, we are taking an important step toward continuous chronic disease management. This is a significant part of how we are working to change care delivery, putting the patient at the center of their care while maintaining a close watch on their condition when they are not in the hospital or doctor's office," said James Noga, Partners' vice president and chief information officer, in a press release. "With a vision to the future, Partners has been committed to connected health for over a decade. As a result, we have created one of the most robust remote monitoring platforms of any large healthcare system, and are well-positioned to incorporate patient-initiated data into healthcare decision-making."

The integration of remote data, collected in real time through home-based monitoring systems, devices or wearable sensors, into the EMR has long been a topic of discussion in mHealth circles. Critics have worried than an infusion of new data could make EMRs – which have a rocky history of performance and acceptance among providers – even more cumbersome and therefore less likely to be implemented.

"What makes this program unique is that Partners is, I believe, the first to seamlessly integrate patient-collected data into their medical record system using their own proprietary technology platform, making it far easier and faster for their clinicians to access this important data. This is the next generation of patient management," said Christopher Wasden, managing director and global healthcare innovation leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers, in the Partners press release. "Partners HealthCare and the Center for Connected Health are at the forefront of changing care delivery by applying technology to assist providers, empower patients and elevate the standards for patient care."

"The care team now has a more comprehensive view of a patient's condition, seeing that individual's day-to-day vital signs, real-time response to medications and other important indicators of his or her health available through our remote monitoring programs," added Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, the center's founder and director. "At the center, we have demonstrated the value of monitoring patients when they are outside the hospital or doctor's office and can now seamlessly integrate this information into the clinical workflow to help improve patient care and efficiencies."

According to officials, vital signs and other biometric data collected by home-based or mobile devices is transmitted to the center's remote monitoring database, which now stores more than 1.2 million pieces of data. That data is then displayed on a patient's EMR, and can be viewed by the patient through Partners' Patient Gateway secure patient portal.

"Connected health programs are holding patients more accountable for their health, and providers are more accountable because we now have access to their data all the time," said Kerie Johnson, RN, a care manager at the North Shore Physicians Group, an eight-office, 200-physician group north of Boston, in the press release. The network makes use of mHealth technology in the center's Blood Pressure Connect program, which monitors and helps manage patients with high blood pressure in their homes.

"I am a firm believer in prevention. If we can intervene with a chronic condition sooner, like hypertension or diabetes, we can help patients make the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce the need for medication and ease the impact of chronic disease overall," Johnson said. "Many of our patients have been able to lower their blood pressure due to better awareness of their condition and lifestyle changes as a result of their participation in Blood Pressure Connect."