Ochsner snaps on Apple Watch for chronic disease pilot

A New Orleans health systems is piloting the Apple Watch as an mHealth tool to help patients manage high blood pressure and live a healthier lifestyle.

Ochsner Health System says the program is all about helping patients make positive changes in their day-to-day routines and become more proactive in their healthcare, according to an article at Forbes.

"We need to fundamentally change behavior," Richard Milani, chief clinical transformation officer say. "And thse Apple Watch has the potential to [do] it."

The Watch officially went on sale last week following months of pre-market hype. Apple's first-ever wearable is viewed as a game changer for healthcare given how it will sync with Apple's HealthKit platform, which industry watchers believe will prove to be a revolutionary data healthcare system for providers and consumers.

The Watch pilot is far from the first Ochsner mHealth effort, as the hospital has been embracing digital technology for years. Milani believes technology can play a huge role in helping manage chronic diseases and help patients avoid such health challenges such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Ochsner boasts an "O Bar," designed after Apple's Genius bar to help patients tap health and wellness apps. That's going to be a very busy place given the wave of Watch apps coming into play. Ochsner also was the first hospital integrating its Epic electronic healthcare recordkeeping system with HealthKit, FierceMobileHealthcare previosuly reported.  

In December, Milani said the hospital presented HealthKit findings to the American Heart Association about how the tool tracks data from heart failure patients. The program resulted in a 44 percent drop in readmissions and a higher level of patient activation once they enrolled in the program, he said. 

Milani tells Forbes he expects to expand the Watch trial with two dozen more participants to better track how the wearable can help manage blood pressure and promote a healthier lifestyle.

"For whatever reason, health care doesn't do a very good job of creating [the necessary] behavior change," he said. "But many of these new technologies have that ability."

For more information:
- read the Forbes report

Related Articles:
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New Orleans healthcare provider first to link EHR with Apple HealthKit
mHealth Summit 2014: HealthKit, EHR pilot programs show great promise, execs say
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