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    Digital ob/gyn: The big healthcare disappointment of 2016


    What’s the holdup?

    Third-party vendors have made great strides in helping data “flow” from a patient’s device to her permanent record, but big-box EHR manufacturers have not made that a priority because the data are hard to map. Until all health data are standardized on phones and sent the same way from each device, it is almost impossible for an EHR to use that information because the system has no idea where to put the data.

    Furthermore, as more EHRs offer portals that allow patients the ability to view their records, it seems almost archaic that the data cannot just flow back to the patient’s phone so that it can all be consolidated into one place. Patients are going online to look at their most recent cholesterol levels but logging their daily exercise and nutrition in an app that cannot integrate that data.

    And, as more providers and patients look to consolidate this information, and attempt to “log” this data, either in the EHR or on a phone, we are going to have more data entry errors because we are all manually entering disconnected information. For example, if a patient types in a cholesterol level of 33 instead of 330, she may falsely believe that she has a low average serum cholesterol and not watch her food intake.

    The NHS initiative

    The National Health Service (NHS), the publicly funded healthcare system in England, has launched an initiative to link devices and apps with improvements in certain public health disorders (ie, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, sleep disorders, chronic health conditions, obesity, etc). One software manufacturer, Medelinked, is providing their service free to NHS patients, doctors, and healthcare professionals in the hope of closing the aforementioned gap.

    For example, patients and providers can share data on blood glucose and cholesterol levels, calorie intake, weight, waist size, exercise level, blood pressure, as well as comments on symptoms and wellness. The bidirectional tool allows patients to send data to their health providers and caretakers to send data to their patients. It is one of the first such tools to allow patients access to and ownership of their health data.

    Brian A. Levine, MD, MS, FACOG
    Dr. Levine is Practice Director at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, New York, New York.

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