You probably have noticed by now that your physicians and hospitals and other clinical healthcare providers are using electronic health records (EHR) to gather, store, and report your health data. You may also have noticed that they are also encouraging you to log onto a patient portal system to review your information. What you may not realize is that this is part of the EHR Incentive Program, which is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). We are well into the first two stages of the program which provides financial incentives for physicians and hospitals to convert to EHR systems. The program has already paid out more than $30 billion in incentives since 2011.

All that is interesting, but what does that have to do with wearable Health Tech devices? The CMS is preparing Stage 3 of the program, which contains an interesting provision:

Patient-generated health data or data from a non-clinical setting is incorporated into the certified EHR technology for more than 15 percent of all unique patients seen by the EP or discharged by the eligible hospital or CAH during the EHR reporting period.

The key is the “patient-generated health data” part. This is defined as “data generated predominantly through patient self-monitoring rather than by a provider.” This includes information created by a patient’s own wearable Health Tech devices. This means that the EHR systems have to have a means to accept and incorporate this data in order to be eligible for the incentives. And at least 15% of their patients must use this feature.

This development certainly raises at least as many questions as it answers, but on the whole it can only be viewed as an encouraging development. It means that physicians and hospitals will actively encourage patients to gather their own health data, from wearable or other devices, that will be incorporated in their EHR. This will provide a more detailed picture of the individual’s health information, which should lead to better outcomes and lower costs for individuals, and for the society as a whole.