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Apple Working with Stanford on Heart Study Using Apple Watch

September 12, 2017
by Heather Landi
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During an Apple event in Cupertino, California today, Apple introduced its new Apple Watch Series 3 with enhanced health and fitness enhancements.

The new Apple Watch features watchOS 4 and includes an updated Heart Rate app that measures heart rate during resting, workout, recovery, walking and Breathe sessions. According to an Apple press release, customers can also choose to receive a notification when their heart rate is elevated above a specific threshold while inactive.

During the product announcement, the company also announced the Apple Heart Study, which uses data from Apple Watch to test if the heart rate sensors can detect cardiac arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, and possibly detect common heart conditions. The company is working with Stanford University and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the study, Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said during the event. The first phase of the study will be available in the App Store later this year, Williams said.

During the event, Williams said Apple Watch can now also detect arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm, and he said that Apple Watch is looking to track atrial fibrillation, a type of serious arrhythmia.

CNBC first reported this development in a story posted online yesterday. CNBC’s Christina Farr reported that Apple is working with partners to test whether its smartwatch can be used to detect common heart conditions.

“The company is partnering up with a group of clinicians at Stanford, as well as telemedicine vendor American Well, to test whether Apple Watch's heart rate sensor can detect abnormal heart rhythms in a cohort of patients, according to two people familiar. The people requested anonymity as these plans have not yet been made public,” Farr reported. Although, during the Apple event, Williams mentioned working with Stanford, but he did not name American Well as a partner in the study.

Apple's Tim Cook hinted at the company's interest in heart health applications in an interview with Fortune published on Monday, Farr reported.

In June, CNBC reported that Apple hired Sumbul Desai, from Stanford's digital health team who was working on projects related to Apple Watch. CNBC also reported that month that Apple has been in talks with developers, hospitals and other industry groups about bringing clinical data, such as detailed lab results and allergy lists, to its devices, Farr wrote.

 

 

 

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Geisinger, Merck Co-Develop Patient Communication and Care Delivery Applications

August 17, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Geisinger Health System and global biopharmaceutical company Merck have collaborated on two new mobile applications that will aim to help patient-provider communication and medication adherence.

According to officials in an announcement this week, the first of the two solutions, the Family Caregiver Application, helps two-way communications and coordination of care for patients and their caregivers. The other workflow solution, the MedTrue application, integrates different medication data sources to assist with medication reconciliation and adherence, resulting in a patient- and healthcare team-verified medication list. 

The applications, which were developed through an ongoing collaboration between Geisinger and Merck, are embedded directly within the electronic medical record (EMR) and in the healthcare provider's workflow. The applications are also accessible to patients and the Family Caregiver Application is accessible to family caregivers. Both workflow solutions can be used remotely.

What’s more, the applications will use SMART on FHIR (Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies/Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) technology, an open, standards-based platform for utilizing data from disparate EMRs, so both products can be used in healthcare systems anywhere, officials said.

The Family Caregiver application was developed and piloted in oncology, and is designed to be translated to other therapeutic areas to enhance coordination of family caregiving activities among medical and caregiving teams. Meanwhile, officials noted, the driver behind the MedTrue application was the health system’s research which found that about 70 percent of its medication lists were inaccurate.

"Providing these tools for patients and family caregivers — tested within our own system — enables patients to be more active in healthcare decisions and could increase the likelihood that patients will adhere to their treatment plans and lead healthier lives,” said David H. Ledbetter, Ph.D., Geisinger executive vice president and chief scientific officer.

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Fitbit, Blue Cross Blue Shield Launch Mobile Health Partnership

August 13, 2018
by Heather Landi
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San Francisco-based fitness wearable maker Fitbit continues its push into the health plan market with a new digital health deal to incorporate its fitness tracker into health and wellness programs.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association announced a partnership with Fitbit to include the company’s wearables and fitness trackers in its Blue365 health and wellness program for Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) members.

Through this program, more than 60 million BCBS members in 23 affiliated health plans to have access to a special offer on Fitbit activity trackers and smartwatches. The deal with BCBSA follows similar partnerships with Humana and UnitedHealthcare.

As part of a commitment to providing consumers with affordable health and wellness products, the Blue365 program also partners with employers to help build a culture of health in the workplace. Employers can either buy in bulk or subsidize a purchase of Fitbit devices for their employees.

“There is no question that increasing activity and moving more is a tremendous benefit that can improve health, and I'm excited Blue365 members will have even more incentives to get and remain healthy by exercising at a pace that's right for them,” Mark Talluto, vice president of strategy and analytics for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), said in a statement. “This strategic partnership will bring personalized health and wellbeing to the next level, allowing members to put their health first.”

"Fitbit provides a powerful platform to engage consumers by offering data, insights and guidance to help them meet their health goals," Adam Pellegrini, general manager of Fitbit Health Solutions, said. "This partnership is an example of how Fitbit is expanding access to our devices and software so that we can help more people focus on their health and wellness and achieve better health outcomes."

Blue365 is available to members of the 23 participating BCBS companies, as well as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Government-wide Service Benefit Plan, also known as the Federal Employee Program® (FEP®).

 

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