Remote monitoring device-maker Withings has partnered with EHR integration software developer Redox to create a wearable which connects with a wide variety of EHR platform. The two are working together using Withings’ MED-PRO CARE, the company’s remote patient monitoring solution.
In addition to wearables, the Withings connected health line includes smart scales, hybrid smartwatches offering not only vitals but also consumer-friendly data such as steps, distance walked and calories lost. MED-PRO is also planning to launch a smart blood pressure monitor and sleep management device. Withings is planning several product launches this year, so it’s notable that it led with a wearable device.
Because Redox offers a single API capable of integrating with a variety of environments, the updated device can share data with the bulk of hospital and physician EHRs, the companies said. This is certainly a standout feature in a world of largely me-too wearables data options.
The data gathered by MED-PRO CARE doesn’t seem to be particularly remarkable, offering such standard information as daily blood pressure levels, weight, sleep patterns, heart rate data and other indices.
What’s interesting, however, is that Withings has made it particularly easy for patients to configure the wearable device. Physicians can configure the wearable using Withings Data HUB, a plug and play cellular gateway created for use with MED-PRO solutions. By using the HUB, providers can offer patients the devices already configured and requiring no setup or regular management.
Physicians will now be able to order and ship the devices, which Withings says are clinically validated, directly through their EHR. Once the patient begins wearing the MED-PRO, physicians will be able to access and analyze the data using the Redox interface. The data is formatted using HL7 standards.
In a column published last summer, I noted that Withings had just finished raising $60 million to boost its presence in the healthcare business. Previously, the company was focused on selling its connected health devices to consumers.
In that column, I argued that while giants like Fitbit and Apple have boosted the visibility of these devices further, that didn’t mean that doctors have given such tools their full trust or allegiance.
The company’s current management (it was previously owned by Nokia, before spinning off independent again) have vowed to focus only on medical-grade products and services. They told one publication that their business customers were asking them to do so.
However, the argument I made previously still stands. There are still reasons why getting physicians fully on board with medical-grade wearables will be a challenge, and there are entrenched ones that have dogged the wearables market for many years.
For one thing, convincing doctors that a wearable really is as trustworthy as standard medical devices still isn’t easy. That’s particularly the case if the company making the device doesn’t have a long track-record in medical device manufacturing, something Withings cannot claim.
Another problem is that Withings needs to convince doctors that the data MED-PRO devices produces is reliable and valid. Just because the vendor says the wearables meet clinical standards doesn’t mean providers will believe it. Although, the right FDA clearance does help.
Not only that, it’s wise to remember that doctors are already being bombarded with EHR data from a multitude of sources. It could take a lot to convince them that they need still more data to do their jobs well. However, it would be an even bigger hurdle to jump over without a Withings integration with a doctor’s EHR. So, in that sense the Redox integration does make a lot of sense and does help to remove the separate system barrier to usage by clinicians.
Ultimately, we probably won’t see the medical wearables revolution vendors like Withings hope to see in the near future, at least until their data offers something uniquely valuable and can be managed with little effort. Until there’s an easy-to-integrate analytics tool available that collects such data and leverages it effectively, providers have as many reasons to pass on it as adopt it.