Ochsner Health System in New Orleans is the first Epic Systems client to integrate its electronic health record system with the Apple HealthKit software development platform.

Now, Ochsner is launching several home monitoring programs to wirelessly collect patient data and have it transmitted to the EHR.

In a pre-HealthKit beta program that started in February 2014, Ochsner has sent more than 100 heart failure patients home with a wireless scale from Blipcare with daily readings sent to the EHR, where a pharmacist monitoring a patient could adjust medications over the phone if necessary. Results have been encouraging with higher levels of patient engagement in their care and readmissions cut by 40 percent, says Richard Milani, M.D., chief clinical transformation officer at Ochsner.

The delivery system provided the Blipcare scales for at least 30 days; after that time, patients who were stabilized and could afford it could purchase their own scale. Patients want to be more engaged and learn how to self-manage care on their own, he adds. “This is something people are thirsting for; not having to get in your car and drive to the doctor’s office.”

With the EHR now integrated to HealthKit, Ochsner is expanding the home monitoring program to other heart patients, as well as patients suffering from hypertension, obesity and diabetes. It also will switch to wireless devices from Fitbit and Withings--including scales, activity trackers, glucose trackers and blood pressure cuffs--as these companies already have developed interfaces, and will recommend patients purchase the devices because the information can go directly into Epic.

However, these devices are first-generation HealthKit products and Milani anticipates more device switches down the road as better products become available.

Last month, Epic CTO Sumit Rana told Health Data Management that the company has updated its MyChart app to—with a patient’s permission—access data from Apple’s HealthKit data repository and share it with their provider. And, on the provider side, Rana said clinicians can set rules as to what types of information they want access to.

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