When Apple announced new details about their Apple Watch in September 2014, it signaled a new direction for the company as a provider of health and wellness tools. Along with information about the new device, Apple revealed their upcoming Health app for the iPhone that collects a range of health and wellness patient statistics and the ResearchKit for medical researchers for easy collection of patient data. As their target audiences are now consumers, clinicians, and researchers, the ability to easily share health data between these groups has institutions like the Mayo Clinic collaborating with Apple on custom apps to improve patient-clinician communication. Not only does the just-launched Apple Watch track activity, movement, and heart rate in individuals, this data can be imported into the Apple Health app for the iPhone and shared with other approved users like clinicians. Some companies also see the potential of the Apple Watch as a useful device for clinicians in communication with patients and colleagues, plus quick access to patient records.

Apps for Patient Care and Practice Management

While the Mayo Clinic was one of the first healthcare organizations to participate in a pilot program of the Apple Health app and Apple Watch, other medical groups jumped to integrate the device into their own pilot programs for clinician-patient collaboration of care. Illinois-based Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) has initiated a pilot program to evaluate the integration of the Apple Watch by nurses and physicians into the medical group’s Advanced Medical Home program for disease management. Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, LA has now included the Apple Watch in their Hypertension Digital Medicine Program to collect data on patient activity and movement.

Although HIPAA does allow email communication between clinicians to discuss patient treatment and care if security measures are in place to prevent unauthorized access to this information, the fax machine is still a common communication method for clinicians in different practice management groups or organizations. The Doximity app for the Apple Watch brings paper faxes to the clinician’s wrist with incoming fax alerts from a free dedicated fax number; while the faxes cannot be read on the Apple Watch, they can be viewed on the Doximity app for iPhone and iPad. The HIPAA-compliant app also allows users to connect directly with other clinicians to quickly respond to messages by dictated responses – no typing needed.

Image courtesy of Doximity.com.