For possibly the first time ever, a healthcare system has produced a mobile app that directly integrates data from both an institutional electronic health record and consumer fitness trackers.
Quietly releasing the myCarolinas Tracker several months ago, Carolinas HealthCare System, based in Charlotte, N.C., made the official introduction earlier this week.
According to the press release, MyCarolinas Tracker is one of the first health system apps that connects the patient and provider around the health data that patients track on their phones. With patients increasingly using mobile devices like iPhones, Apple Watch and others to monitor their daily health, the challenge is what to do with all that data.
The app supports more than 70 devices, including fitness trackers, blood pressure cuffs, glucometers, scales and heart rate monitors. Syncing these devices with a single source produces sophisticated insight by monitoring daily activity, weight, nutrition, blood pressure, sleep patterns, mood, blood sugar and more.
The value of MyCarolinas Tracker is that it collects all that data, provides the patient with clinical context and then connects those patients with care providers. Carolinas HealthCare System patients are putting the data in the Tracker automatically, that data is explained and for select patients sent to care providers.
"It's one thing to collect all your steps on your phone," said Greg Weidner, MD, medical director of the Carolinas HealthCare System Proactive Health group. "It's quite another to provide the clinical explanation and connection to the provider. With this tool, our care managers can see what's going on with the patient in between visits. We have a better sense of what's going well and what areas need extra attention."
“I’m certain if an app like this was created at a hospital in Silicon Valley or New York it would be getting all types of buzz,” Iltifat Hussein, MD, wrote on his iMedicalApps blog in November. “The MyCarolina Tracker app has the potential to do something no health app has yet — actually take data from wearables and make it clinically relevant for millions of patients and their physicians.”
Deploying technologies that are meaningful and useful for patients drove this work. Mobile technology puts in people's hands the ability to easily manage health status.
"The future of healthcare is to actively engage the patient or consumer," said Craig Richardville, chief information officer at Carolinas HealthCare System. "Patients are demanding that they have tools to better help them manage their own health status in a meaningful way. Carolinas HealthCare System is committed to leveraging the technology to do that."
Additional features of the app include:
Sending the data to patient's patient portal for storage there
Creating a report of all the data to share with family or other care providers
Tracking health data over a period of time
For people who don't have a Carolinas HealthCare System provider, the direct-to-consumer version of the app, Carolinas Tracker, allows users to access many of the same features.
The Carolinas and MyCarolinas Tracker apps are easy to set up and use. Download the app from the App store or Google Play for iPhone, iPad or Android devices. Once downloaded, consumers can connect existing health devices and applications to the Carolinas Tracker or MyCarolinas Tracker app.