Linking Biofeedback and an EMR or Patient Portal

Today I ran across what I considered a very new term for me: Biofeedback Here’s a definition and description of biofeedback I found:

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a learning process in which people are taught to improve their health and performance by observing signals generated by their own bodies. It is scientifically based and validated by studies and clinical practice. It is a highly effective way to control stress, realize true relaxation and help achieve important personal goals.

Fear, over-eating, smoking, anxiety and other problems are actually linked to, or aggravated by, stress. For some, stress is a stimulant to effective action, but for others it’s a barrier to self-fulfillment. The secret is knowing your reaction to stress, and using this new awareness as a springboard to a life in control. A life where you can release the powers of the mind for greater achievement and better health.

Biofeedback is the widely-used and medically-accepted technique for teaching us to control stress, achieve relaxation, and channel talents and energies toward realizing our full potential. Our home biofeedback devices make you aware of your unconscious “involuntary” physical reactions to stress – “feeding back” subtle changes in stress levels. You’ll be able to hear or see changes in your stress level!

Even more interesting was a list of biofeedback devices that you can purchase:

Skin resistance biofeedback (GSR Galvanic Skin Response) is a measure of how relaxed you are, which changes based on your overall mood and emotions.

A sensor is placed on your hand, you hear a tone that increases in pitch when your emotions or mood becomes more tense, and decreases when you are relaxing.

Muscle tension biofeedback measures how tight a particular muscle is. Relaxing your forehead can help reduce headaches, release jaw tension, and upper shoulder tightness. You wear a pair of headphones with a band containing sensors that goes across your forehead. When the muscles in your forehead let go, then the tone that you are listening to decreases.

Brainwave biofeedback measures the quality of your brainwaves. Improving the quality of your brainwaves helps people with learning and concentration, reduce mental clutter, reach deeper states of relaxation faster, and to improve the quality of sleep.

Two electrodes are placed on your scalp. Using a computer interface, you can see your brainwaves on the screen, which appear as wavy lines, much like ocean waves. When the waves are close together, it means that you are alert. When they are further apart (slower), that means you are relaxing into deeper states of alpha, or creative visualization (theta).

When you see irregular waves, the quality of that particular brainwave state is not very good. When the waves become smooth and regular, you are able to sustain focus within that particular brainwave state.

Heart Rate Variability biofeedback measures how your heart responds to emotional, mental, and physical stresses, and its ability to bounce back to a relaxed and better functioning state. It helps for general relaxation, and cardio vascular distress.

You wear a finger sensor, and a computer interface allows you to see your heart rhythms on the screen, which appear like ocean waves, or lines that move up and down. Irregular, ever-changing waves mean that things easily upset you, whereas smooth waves mean that you are able to stay calm in stressful situations.

Skin temperature biofeedback measures the amount of blood flow beneath the skin. The warmer the temperature, the greater the degree of relaxation in that area which improves circulation for healing.

I find the science of it all quite interesting. I’m interested in hearing people’s opinions on biofeedback. How is it accepted in the medical community? Would it be beneficial to have it integrated with an EMR system. Then, you could track a person’s change in stress level for example. I think this could be espescially intrigueing in a counseling center setting. Integrated with an EMR, I think if the biofeedback works you could get some really interesting data on how a client with stress in their life improves their stress level over time. Could be very interesting.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

1 Comment

  • I think that biofeedback would certainly be an interesting add on to an EMR system. If you could record the information on how successful the biofeedback was and the type of biofeedback used it could be used again in similar situations.

    For example, if a particular type of biofeedback is useful for patients with asthma, the results could be of use if recorded in the EMR.

    Medscape have an article on Biofeeback treatment of Asthma: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/487394

    I’m sure it could be useful in other conditions that are exacerbated by stress such as Panic Attacks, difficult labour, etc.

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