August 5, 2014
The passive collection of health data, gathered seamlessly from wearable devices and home monitoring systems, could be the key to making patient-generated health data (PGHD) useful and ubiquitous, says Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) CIO John Halamka in a blog post.  The proliferation of devices that do the work for patients and the growing acceptance of the usefulness of PGHD among healthcare providers are combining to create a “perfect storm of PGHD to enter the mainstream,” Halamka says.
“Since 1999, Patientsite, the BIDMC shared record between doctor and patient, has enabled patients to track blood pressure, glucometer readings, activities of daily living, mood, pain et cetera, but few patients have used those features,” he writes. “Why?  Because it requires time and energy to maintain that data.”
But when patients don’t have to do anything, he continues, explaining how a suite of devices on his person and in his home automatically transmit data and upload statistics to his online health records, information collection becomes easier and engagement with the data becomes more natural.  “The devices, standards (content, vocabulary, transport), and usability are good enough.  The total expense of acquiring/using them is cheap enough,” he says, to finally make PGHD a viable tool for providers to use in population health management and chronic disease care.
As providers start to accept that PGHD is here to stay, and the EHR Incentive Programsbecome more likely to include the collection and use PGHD in future stages, developers and vendors will continue to refine the collection process and streamline the way patients interact with a new suite of tools.  Apple, Google, and Samsung, just to name a few of the tech companies jumping onto the wearable device bandwagon, are already touting their wristbands and smartwatches as the solution for the quantified self.
Other healthcare developers are seeking ways to integrate PGHD into the EHR to make the data viewable and useable for providers.
For Halamka, exploring ways to collect and use PGHD in his own life, as well as in his leadership role at BIDMC, is at the top of his agenda.  “Patient generated healthcare data is the next key frontier in care coordination, population health, and clinical research,” he writes.
“Although Beth Israel Deaconess has invested significantly in home care, care management, and telemedicine, it has not yet made the commitment to be a leader in patient generated healthcare data. For the next year I’ll be exploring patient generated data, both in devices I use myself, and in the creation of novel applications that enable such data to be incorporated in ACO and clinician workflow without creating data overload for any stakeholder.”
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