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Ochsner Health System Becomes First Epic User to Fully Integrate with Apple HealthKit

October 8, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The New Orleans, La.-based Ochsner Health System has announced that it is the first client of the Verona, Wisc.-based Epic Systems to fully integrate its electronic health record (EHR) with the new Apple HealthKit.

On October 5, the health system signed up its first patient, and was able to successfully import his personal health data into the Epic medical record, according to Jonathan Wilt, assistant vice president of Ochsner’s Center of Innovation.

Ochsner was one of three health systems tapped to beta-test the iOS8-integrated application. Approximately 53 percent of Americans have their medical records within the Epic EHR, and its MyChart application is the most used patient portal in the U.S.

HealthKit is Apple's service, announced in June at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC), and can gather and integrate health data from a number of apps and put it all into one interface. The data can include vitals, such as blood pressure and weight. This interface allows these different apps to communicate with each other, the company says.

“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,” Robert Bober, M.D., Ochsner Medical Center, said in a press release statement. “Now we can share information seamlessly between patient and physician to allow real-time, accurate analysis of a patient’s health status. This is ideal for patients with chronic diseases such as heart failure, hypertension and diabetes.”

In fact, Ochsner began a home monitoring program earlier in the year for patients with heart failure. Gradual fluid accumulation can be dangerous for these patients, so they were sent home from the hospital with wireless scales that tracked their weight daily. The patients only had to step on the scale and their weights were sent to Ochsner’s EHR. The pharmacist monitoring the patient could adjust the patient’s medication over the phone, thus preventing unnecessary hospitalizations. “We had to build our own interfaces to get the information into the medical record,” said Richard Milani, M.D., chief clinical transformation office, Ochsner Health System. “Now, patients can choose which information will be shared with us automatically. The integration of the EHR with HealthKit will make a major difference in how patients monitor and participate in their own healthcare in the future,” he said.

Other pilot programs, such as Stanford Children's Health in Calif. and Duke Medicine in Durham, N.C. are using HealthKit to monitor patients with chronic conditions. Additionally, Cerner, Athenahealth, Epic, and various other vendors in health IT have announced collaborations with Apple as they continue to move into the patient-generated data space.

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