Fitbit Data in the EMR?

People keep telling me they want their Fitbit and other personal device data in their doctors EMR. While it seems reasonable that your doctor would want as much data as possible available to them in the EMR, a whole wave of Fitbit data is unlikely to impact the care your doctor provides you. Your doctor doesn’t have enough time to look at your current chart. When is she going to have time to look through all your Fitbit data?

There likely are times when Fitbit and other health sensor data is going to impact the care you receive and the care provided by a doctor. However, I don’t believe your EHR vendor is going to provide those insights. At best your EHR would be a storage place for that data. I don’t see many EHR vendors doing the work required to turn that outside health sensor data into actionable insights.

Most doctors I know would be happy to have an external system inform them of insights related to your health sensor data. In fact, many would welcome it. David Chou recently blogged about the move to more personalized care and much of that is built on the back of this sensor data. He takes it even further including the system reminding you to order a low calorie diet when your GPS shows you visiting a fast food restaurant. Will EHR software do that? I don’t think so.

I guess you could summarize my view on health sensor data in that I’m bullish on the potential of what all this health sensor data can do for a person’s health, but I’m bearish on the EMR being the software that does it. The EMR might play a role in presenting the insights to the doctor, but that doesn’t require the EMR to have all the data. They just become a communication pathway. What do you think?

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.

3 Comments

  • Its never a data problem – its always a filter problem imo.
    Raw fitbit data is a problem but processed and presented it adds tremendous value and even more so with he latest innovations in the fitbit devices with he surge offering 24/7 pulse recording and passive recording og exercise, steps and now sleep (the 3rd leg in health that is greatly under served and rated)
    Soem have already done so and I thin the challenge is login to intelligently and with actionable insights – but ignoring it is not on the pathway to patient engagement (if patients are collecting it then they perceive it to be important) and including patients in the concepts of wellness vs illness and changing lifestyle choices to improve health.

  • Dr Nick,
    Thanks for your added commentary. Seems like we’re on the same page. Although your last point is very interesting. What signal are we sending patients when we say we don’t want your data. Even if we don’t use it, there’s some value in just being willing to accept their data.

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