Electronic Health Records: Beyond mere data storage bins
One of the most valuable technology company in world, Apple, recently debuted their health management tool called HealthKit. The tool promises to provide a dashboard that integrates health and fitness data of the users. Apple is not the only company doing so. Over the years there has been an exponential growth in health and fitness monitors such asFitbit, Jawbone UP, Nike’s Fuelband, Adidas micoach series and many more. Electronic Health Record providers such as Mayo Clinic and Epic are partnering with Apple to integrate HealthKit with their EHR systems.
Technological trajectory can be predicted towards integrated systems, constantly providing valuable healthcare data. EHRs have the potential to transform from being medical storage softwares, to action oriented health enabling platforms. We ourselves at NextServices, have been experimenting with developing smart EHR functions for Google Glass and have laid down the technology architecture for integrating fitness data streams (from Fitbit) and genetic data streams (from 23andMe) into enki – our cloud based mobile electronic health record system.
Many debate that this boom in technology is a passing fad, but with major players diving into integrating systems and creating a connected network, the others are bound to follow. Patient-physician visits are completely orchestrated today. Diagnosis and course of treatment is solely based upon how the patient is feeling at that point in time. This is risky business, what if the patient has a different set of symptoms tomorrow? Moreover, how would a physician determine the changes in vitals if the patient is not physically present at the practice? Connected systems can constantly track patient wellness.
Imagine a world with continuous flow of data from different sources and EHRs being a central hub where data is constantly monitored, stored and interpreted. Any fluctuations in patients’ health are immediately flagged and notifications are sent to the concerned physician instantly. The physician then checks alerts on her iPad or Android tablet/phone and determines course of treatment. Treatment transparency is always maintained by sharing records with the patients and through educational resources.
Apart from the sheer coolness, the data generated by the integrated systems would be most useful and EHRs being available at the point of care would impart care that is progressive and longitudinal.