Boston Children’s, Duke create family medical history app

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A mobile app developed at Boston Children’s Hospital in collaboration with Duke Health System is designed to aid parents in storing family medical history and other information, and sharing it with physicians, as well as tracking health metrics of family members.

Designed for the Apple iOS operating system, the app is available for free at the AppStore. The first iteration of the app was built on the CareKit platform for use with smartphones. Future versions are expected to run on iPads and Apple computers, says Michael Docktor, MD, a gastroenterologist and clinical director of innovation at Boston Children’s.

The app is particularly suitable for children with complex medical needs who have regular visits to their primary care provider and multiple specialists; the information it stores will be especially useful in informing emergency department physicians during an urgent situation.

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The app tracks a wide range of information, including allergies, medical equipment that a patient relies on and emergency action plans. It also tracks exercise, mood, pain and sleep patterns, school attendance, tantrums and other consistent physical effects. Parents can show the app to a physician or send results as a PDF document via email.

“The ability to track custom parameters provides an important window into patients’ lives that is not captured in the electronic health record, but is important to families,” Docktor says.

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Developers are now working on enhancements to the app that, over time, are expected to include connecting the app, called Caremap, to the Cerner and Epic electronic health record systems using a FHIR-based interoperability interface.

The next step will add secure cloud connectivity to enable synching across devices and EHR systems. Another item on the wish list is direct submission of information from parents into a physician’s EHR, with physician approval.

The overall value that Docktor and colleagues hope to deliver is secure data exchange that gives voice to patients and families and supports the tracking of metrics, he adds.

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