The Partners HealthCare medical center has just set up a platform which integrates patient self-measurement tools with official Electronic Medical Records technology.

Boston hospitals develop integrated ‘connected health’ system


Following the coming into force of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which contains a section designed to promote digital health and raise awareness among the general public of the existence of available self-measurement tools, US medical practitioners are now trying their hand at connected health software. A number of hospitals in Boston which are members of the Partners HealthCare network have recently been trialing a collaborative platform which enables doctors to tap straight into data flows which have been gathered and transmitted by patients from their own homes. This is the first time that self-measurement tools used in a private environment have been directly incorporated into an official Electronic Medical Records (EMR) network in order to provide ongoing health monitoring.

Integrating self-measured data into electronic medical files

This EMR system sets out to capitalize on the popularity of self-measurement tools at a time when a tenth of all US Americans monitor their health on a daily basis. Partners HealthCare patients can measure their glucose levels, track their weight and monitor their blood pressure without leaving home. The data can then be sent directly via any one of an array of available tools, including smartphones, FitBit, smart bracelets etc, to an online platform to which both physicians and patients have access. The interface is updated automatically each time new data is entered, with a view to seamless use.

A ‘networked’ platform  

This type of connected health platform is likely to become more widespread at a time when both hospitals and insurance companies are looking to optimize resource allocation in the face of increasing healthcare demand from an aging population. Drawing inspiration from the power sector’s ‘smart grid’ management system, this system of ongoing health indicator measurement enables hospitals to anticipate patient in-and outflows more accurately and to reduce the number of physician consultations. This type of service is particularly beneficial in rural areas, especially for people who suffer from chronic illness and require a diagnosis on a regular basis. This initiative could basically become part of a wider approach to making good use of the data gathered. In this same vein, researchers at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, have just developed a personalized preventative diagnostic software program which also makes use of EMR data. 

By Thomas Meyer
Journalist, Business Analyst