I have just returned from the 2013 CES conference which was held in Las Vegas. The meeting was literally everywhere, as it is too large for just the Las Vegas Convention Center. With all of those exhibitors, manufacturers, and vendors present I have to admit that I only focused on a small component of the meeting, the Digital Health Expo.
The Digital Health Expo is where manufacturers and developers of health technology for use by individuals in their home display their products. What I can tell you is there is a plethora of devices that can measure heart rate, exercise rate, pulse, rate of eating, weight, and share that information with apps on the users I phone, android or other personal device. Other devices can communicate with a website where the individual can view their information. But to date there was not a single device that was displayed at CES that is truly capable of communicating with the EHR that you have in your office.
That being said, there is promise that in the not too distant future your patients will be able to electronically transmit the data collected at home to you for inclusion in your EHR software. Standardization of communication and file types is progressing and this is being promoted through an organization known as the Continua Health Care Alliance.
CES has taken a major step in having the Digital Health pavilion and track at their meeting, but many of the manufacturers present still not seem to grasp the value and potential of their devices in helping to improve the overall health of their consumers. Many of the representatives at the show displayed little interest and even less knowledge of the Health Information Technology available to medical professionals and they do not have plans to allow integration of their products to ‘professional grade’ software such as the EHR in our offices. This lack of knowledge and interest is extremely telling.
With the increased prevalence of these devices that allow our patients to monitor their health at home, it is important for us, as doctors, to understand the technology that is being marketed to our patients. When they report to our offices expecting that we can import their data directly into our EHR programs we need to be able to intelligently discuss the state of the industry with our patients. When they ask us about the value of these devices we need to know the value of the devices and how they can be utilized to maintain the health of our patients.
For now the message to our patients is the devices DO NOT communicate with EHR software at this time. There is a movement in that industry to develop devices that can communicate, but they are not even available as prototypes at this time. Our patients who wish to purchase these home monitoring devices should be encouraged to become more engaged in their health, and to move forward with getting these devices with the full knowledge that we will not be able to utilize the data they collect.
Eventually we may see these devices presented to doctors as adjunctive devices to assist us in maintaining the health of our patients, but until that date we need to ensure that our patients are fully aware of the limitations these devices have to communicate with their health care providers.