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Wearables Makers Pitching Health Trackers For Babies

Posted on November 9, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

When my older son was born, we relied on a low-tech “sense of hearing” solution to track crying alerts from his crib at the other end of the hallway.

But were he born today, my son would never have settled for such pedestrian technology. Today’s discriminating newborn expects his parents to collect a wide array of data points and conduct advanced analytics on them to optimize his health.

You think this is ridiculous? Wipe that smile off of your face, you slackers. Ever sensitive to the expanding needs of today’s modern baby, wearables manufacturers have begun testing health trackers designed to monitor their tiny bodies, according to an article appearing on the CNN.com site.

In fact, there are already dozens of wearables for babies on the market, CNN found, including devices that monitor their heart rate, smart socks that track oxygen levels and a baby monitor button that snaps onto the child’s clothes. Any of these could cost a few hundred dollars. But there’s also smart thermometers and pacifiers, such as Vick’s or Blue Maestro’s Pacif-i, which start around $20 and go up from there, the site reports.

The CNN article also shares the tale of Crystal King, an Atlanta mom who’s monitoring her six-month son Avery using one of these emerging trackers.

The piece describes how using her cell phone, King can check her baby’s temperature on her cell phone and get app-driven alerts when it’s time for Avery’s next bottle feeding.

Meanwhile, if King picks up her tablet, she can also monitor her son’s breathing, body position, skin temperature and sleeping schedule. (Back in the Stone Age, I had to settle for keeping his body in position with pillow wedges and tracking his sleeping schedule using a little trick known as “staying awake.”)

As part of his work with CNN, Avery has been testing a number of different wearable devices. He seems to be a tough critic. On the one hand, he seemed pretty comfy wearing a biometric-tracking onesie while playing on his mat, but kept spitting out the smart pacifier, which was apparently a nonstarter.

Of course, we don’t actually know what Avery thinks about these devices, but his mom has developed some ideas. For example, King told CNN she thinks it would be good to help parents control the number of notifications they get from baby-monitoring apps and technologies.

If nothing else, equipping their baby with a health tracker may offer parents a little extra reassurance that their child is safe. He might still erupt in deafening screams at 3AM now and again, but if he’s wearing a health tracker, you might at least know why.

Patients Favor Tracking, Sharing Health Data

Posted on February 3, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

To date, I’d argue, clinicians have been divided as to how useful medical statistics are when they come straight from the patient. In fact, some physicians just don’t see the benefit of amateur readings. (For example, when I brought my own cardiologist three months of dutifully-logged blood pressure and pulse readings, she told me not to bother.)

Research suggests that my experience isn’t unique. One study, released mid-last year by market research firm MedPanel, found that only 15% of physicians were recommending wearables or health apps to patients as tools for growing healthier.

But a new study has found that patients side with health-tracking fans. According to a new study released by the Society for Participatory Medicine, 84% of respondents felt that sharing self-tracking stats such as blood glucose, blood pressure, heart rate and physical activity with their clinician would help them better manage their health. And 77% of respondents said that such stats were equally important to both themselves and their healthcare professional.

And growing numbers of healthcare professionals are getting on board. A separate study released last year by Research Now found that 86% of 500 medical professionals said mHealth apps gave them a clearer understanding of a patient’s medical condition, and 76% percent felt that apps were helping patients manage chronic illnesses.

Patients surveyed by the SPM, meanwhile, seemed downright enthusiastic about health trackers and mobile health:

* 76% of adults surveyed would use a clinically-accurate and easy-to-use personal monitoring device
* 57% of respondents would like to both use such a device and share the data generated with a professional
* 81% would be more likely to use a consumer health monitoring device if their healthcare professional recommended such a device

Realistically, medical pros aren’t likely to make robust use of patient-generated data unless that data can be integrated into a patient’s chart quickly and efficiently. Some brave clinicians may actually attempt to skim and mentally integrate data from a health app or wearable, but few have the time, others doubt the data’s accuracy and yet another subgroup simply finds the process too awkward to endure.

The bottom line, ultimately, seems to be that patient-generated data won’t find much favor until hospitals and medical practices roll out technologies like Apple’s HealthKit, which pull the data directly into an EMR and present it in a clinician-friendly manner. And some medical pros won’t even be satisfied with a good presentation; they’ll only take the data seriously if it was served up by an FDA-approved device.

Still, I personally love the idea of participatory medicine, and am happy to learn that health trackers and apps might help us get closer to this approach. As I see it, there’s no downside to having the patient and the clinician understand each other better.