The New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System is using the recently launched Apple Watch to help manage patients suffering from chronic diseases.
Last September, Apple released its long-awaited smartwatch with the aim to better monitor consumers’ health by collecting data and sharing it with providers. At Ochsner, the Apple Watch is a tool used to enhance the effectiveness of the Ochsner Hypertension Digital Medicine Program, a pilot program that tracks several hundred patients who are struggling to control their blood pressure.
Through wireless blood pressure cuffs integrated with AppleHealthKit and Epic, Ochsner’s electronic medical record (EMR), patients regularly measure their blood pressure and heart rate ratings at home while the data is sent directly to the clinic for monitoring. Specialized pharmacists review the data in real time to make medication adjustments and lifestyle recommendations as needed to insure good blood pressure control. Results are incorporated into MyOchsner, the system’s online patient portal, so that patients have access to their EMR and can receive progress reports on their status.
Through the Apple Watch, patients now can receive medication reminders which include actual pictures of the pill; feedback from clinicians about potential side effects once a new medication is prescribed; renewal notification for prescriptions, and activity tracking and exercise reminders. “Typically, hypertension patients see their physician a few times a year. Now, we are offering a new way to deliver care in patients with chronic diseases in which we can communicate with the patient in a more intimate way, more frequently,” Richard Milani, M.D., chief clinical transformation officer, Ochsner Health System, said in a news release statement. “We recognize that to be impactful with this method, we need to fundamentally change behavior. We can do this by providing continuous feedback with reminders and words of encouragement to promote lifestyle modification. What better way than to utilize the capabilities of the Apple Watch to make this an easier transition.”
Patients currently enrolled in the program have met the following criteria:
- Consistently had uncontrolled hypertension with at least three consecutive blood pressure readings over 140/90
- Use an iPhone 5 or above
- Registered to MyOchsner and have completed the on-boarding questionnaires
- Purchased the recommended wireless blood pressure monitor
Ochsner officials say that it is the first hospital in the nation to manage patients suffering from chronic diseases using the new Apple Watch. What’s more, last fall, the health system said that it was the first client of Epic to fully integrate its EMR with the new Apple HealthKit.
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