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With Help From Apple, BIDMC Ramps Up Patient Engagement Efforts

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is ramping up its patient-engagement efforts. BIDMC is incorporating Apple’s CareKit into its home-monitoring iPhone and iPad app, BIDMC@Home.

CareKit, released on March 21, is a new software framework that helps developers build health management apps. BIDMC@Home, which has been in use for about a year, already uses HeathKit, which allows patients to upload data from scales or blood pressure cuffs to BIDMC’s electronic health record.

While HealthKit records measurements, CareKit records subjective material, such as how a patient is feeling and pain scores, and shares it with their doctor via the app.

“The idea is by combining both the subjective information they’re providing with some objective measures from some health centers, as well as their care plan, they can have a better understanding of their health and it can lead to better outcomes,” said Dr. Seth Berkowitz, the developer of BIDMC’s iPhone applications as well as a staff radiologist.

CareKit allows BIDMC to modernize and improve existing processes. Instead of sending a patient home with instructions written on a piece of paper and waiting to see how they’re doing in a week or even a month, CareKit allows the doctor constant access to data about the condition of their patient after discharge at no additional cost to the patient.

“By using this technology, their care plan is embedded into their personal device which they’re using all the time,” said Berkowitz. “You have a much easier way of gathering data almost continuously from patients, tracking that, and helping patients use that to adjust their care.”

Berkowitz explained that increasing patients’ engagement in their care is essential to the quality of care as well as their overall health. While doctors’ instructions to their patients won’t change, the medium through which those instructions are managed will. Greater access to medical information will allow patients to care for themselves in between visits to the doctor and keeps them out of the hospital.

“Taking care of a patient is only as effective as that patient carrying out the instructions that the doctor gives them,” Berkowitz said.

BIDMC is still in the process of integrating CareKit into its system. The hope is to engage as many patients in their own care as possible to the point of managing their own chronic conditions. Eventually, the goal is to manage chronic disease in an “outpatient setting to keep patients from needing hospital readmittance or high intensity care.”

Alexandra David

Alexandra David

    Alexandra David is a senior at Boston University studying journalism. She was the City Editor of the Daily Free Press and has worked for the IDG News Service and LeadingAge. Her passions include social justice, Boston, and, of course, journalism. Her hobbies include reading (like a good writer) and watching documentaries.

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