'Now we can share information seamlessly between patient and physician'

Ochsner first to link Epic to Apple's HealthKit

By Erin McCann
10:58 AM
Ochsner Health System
It's official. The Louisiana-based health system has become the first Epic EHR shop to integrate its electronic health record with Apple's HealthKit, making for seamless data exchange between clinicians and their patients. 
 
The six hospital Ochsner Health System in New Orleans announced this week that integration efforts with Apple's new health platform – which serves to aggregate consumers' health data from myriad health applications into the EHR  – have been successful.
 
 
"In the past, we relied on patients to log information, bring it to us, and then we would input the data and decide a course of action," explained Robert Bober, MD, director of cardiac molecular imaging at Ochsner Medical Center, in an Oct. 6 press statement. "Now we can share information seamlessly between patient and physician to allow real-time, accurate analysis of a patient's health status." For patients with chronic diseases, like heart failure or diabetes in particular, this announcement has big implications, Bober added.
 
The announcement comes after a beta program the health system launched earlier this year that monitored heart failure patients at their homes. The program kicked off in February, with more than 100 heart failure patients participating.
 
Instead of having to come in for regular weight checks, Ochsner gave its patients wireless scales that transmitted their weight into the MyChart EHR on a daily basis. If their weight increased significantly – often a warning sign of fluid accumulation – they'd get a call from a pharmacist who would adjust their medications accordingly. "Most of the times, they wouldn't have to come in," said Robert Milani, MD, chief clinical transformation officer at the health system, to Healthcare IT NewsAnd that had some big implications. 
 
How big? Think a 40 percent decrease in readmissions, Milani pointed out. 
 
The integration process hasn't been without its challenges, however. "It's not as straightforward as it sounds," he added. "Doing it within the constraints of the EMR is not an easy feat." They had to essentially build their own interfaces to actually get the data into the EHR. But now that they've done it, they want to move forward with other populations. "Our goal now is to expand it," said Milani. 
 
Ochsner is not the only health system working to integrate HealthKit into its EHR. This summer, there were reports that Apple was also teaming up with Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Mount Sinai, according to Reuters.