One of the key features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) is that it started requiring the use of electronic health records (EHR) as a way to cut costs and increase efficiency in healthcare. One of the side effects of this shift has been the development of “patient portals” that give consumers secure access to their medical records. Many people can now go online to get their latest lab test results or review information from their office visits.
Some medical systems are expanding their patient portals to collect data from customers’ wearable devices. For example, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles has a patient portal system called CS-Link. The organization has added a feature that lets patients automatically sync data from their wearable Health Tech devices. The feature works with the Apple Heath app to support a range of wireless devices including the Apple Watch and Nike FuelBand. It also accepts data from Fitbit products and Withings devices including the Smart Body Analyzer, a blood oxygen tracker, and a blood pressure monitor.
The data from these devices becomes part of the patient’s health record, and it can be accessed by physicians and other healthcare professionals in the Cedars-Sinai system. This can save consumers lots of time by eliminating the need to manually enter the data, or transfer the information from one system to another. The portal instructions point out that physicians will not necessarily monitor the uploaded data, but they will be able to access it if they want to check it as part of managing your health.
It is this sort of seamless integration that will make wearable Health Tech a success. With more analytic functions being built into the storage system, patients and physicians can receive alerts if any of the results indicate a cause for concern that might need additional attention or inquiry. The end result will be earlier detection of illness, lower cost for diagnosis and treatment, and better outcomes.