- A report by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and sponsored by wearables pioneer Fitbit suggests health coaches — professionals who facilitate patient treatment and education for physicians — could help improve the use of patient-generated data from wearables.
- HIMSS surveyed 101 healthcare IT and hospital administrators for the report, which found that half of hospitals and health systems planned to connect patients with a health coach or were already using health coaching. Mid- to large-sized organizations were three times as likely to do so than small healthcare systems.
- Survey participants said the top three barriers to using wearables to generate patient health data were costs, issues integrating data into the patient record and data overload on providers.
In contrast to widespread skepticism that greeted the devices when they first came to market a decade ago, health systems are no longer questioning the value of patient-generated health data, the report said.
Fitbit recently launched Fitbit Care, a connected health platform that combines coaching and virtual care to help people manage chronic conditions. The product combines Fitbit's wearables technology with the Fitbit Plus app and Twine Health's disease management platform with the aim of increasing patient engagement and care coordination. Fitbit acquired Twine in February.
The HIMSS/Fitbit survey found that 79% of respondents agreed they would like to have more data about patients between encounters such as office visits, and 72% said they need patient-generated data to make good decisions on chronic disease management.
Of those respondents already incorporating data from wearable devices in their workflow, 90% see it as strategy that can positively affect management of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension and smoking addiction.
The top three reasons to incorporate wearables data, according to the survey, are more timely interventions, immediate feedback and improved patient accountability. Timely interventions improve patient motivation and behavior change.
“We are learning to trust the data. Furthermore, we’re learning how to make actual wearables and activity monitors more effective tools in both preventing disease and managing chronic disease,” senior manager of the Personal Connected Health Alliance at HIMSS John Sharpe said.
The report suggested that health coaches along with advances in interoperability can accelerate the integration of patient-generated health data from wearables.