New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System was one of the first U.S. systems to begin managing patients with chronic conditions using tech giant Apple's new HealthKit data-sharing platform in conjunction with the Apple watch and iPhone.
Clinicians and researchers around the country are excited about the technology's potential because of the ease of connecting HealthKit to electronic health-record systems and feeding data from patients' Apple watches and other wearable devices into their personal health records.
Ochsner was one of the beta testers for Apple's HealthKit application. Last fall, it succeeded in importing a patient's personal health data through HealthKit into its EHR system.
In February, Ochsner launched a monitoring program for hypertension patients using devices linked to HealthKit, said Dr. Richard Milani, Ochsner's chief clinical transformation officer. To be eligible, patients must have blood pressure readings outside the controlled range of 140/90. Enrollees are given a new Apple watch, but they have to provide their own Apple iPhone, one that's new enough to connect to HealthKit.
Ochsner clinicians ask patients to obtain a wireless blood pressure cuff, which connects with HealthKit, then to the EHR. Other EHR developers, including Cerner Corp. and Athenahealth, also tout their connectivity with HealthKit and the Apple watch. Duke University Health System and the Mayo Clinic are among the provider systems that have integrated HealthKit with their EHRs and are using the connection to improve care for patients and conduct research.