Wearables pilot at UPenn Health System tests value of mHealth

A pilot involving wearable monitors is in its second week of a three-week test within the University of Pennsylvania Health System and early feedback is positive, according to a project leader.

The pilot is a "proof of concept" to determine how patients and clinicians view mHealth technology, Penn Medicine Associate CIO Jim Beinlich told MedCity News.

The monitors are being tested by medical surgical cancer unit patients. Beinlich said the device is a Food and Drug Administration-approved hospital product being worn on the arms of inpatients. The goal is to determine if such technology would prove valuable to patients and clinicians, Beinlich said.

So far, the answer is leaning toward "yes;" patients and medical staff are seeing benefits from use of the devices, according to Beinlich.

"The nurse doesn't have to wake you up to measure blood pressure. That changes nursing workflow," Beinlich said, adding that patients are likely achieving more restorative sleep.

Wearable use by providers is growing, as are efforts to create rules surrounding the tools. A recently created set of draft guidelines developed by a coalition--including Microsoft, Vitality Institute and University of California San Diego--for responsible use of wearables, smartwatches and mHealth apps, is open for public comment through mid-October. The guidelines look to address social, ethical and legal concerns that may arise during the development of mobile healthcare tools.

Clothing may even soon be able to collect real-time data. Clothing that boasts health sensors and devices has potential to drive remote monitoring, according to Kathryn Wills, M.D., a smart textiles research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory and Coventry.

If Penn Medicine finds success through the pilot, the provider's next step likely will be integrating the device into its electronic health record system, Beinlich said.

For more information:
- read the MedCity News report

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