A coming of age for patient generated health data

By Brian Dolan
02:40 pm

Thanks to a long list of drivers finally coming together, PGHD is now ready and poised to help transform healthcare. That’s why next month HIMSS is co-presenting the very first live event for our publication: MobiHealthNews 2016. This one-day summit in San Francisco on June 13 gathers together the best and brightest healthcare providers working on PGHD initiatives today -- be sure to register before it's too late!

“It’s not about the technology.”

It’s increasingly easy to stay connected: In the U.S. more than 72 percent of adults now have a smartphone. But as anyone working in health tech for more than a few months knows: “It’s not about the technology.” It’s not. The conversations health tech innovators need to focus on aren’t technology adoption or related tech macro-trends. Health and wellness programs will continue to benefit from the trickle-down effects of our otherwise always-on, always-connected, on-demand world. That wider culture change has everything to do with the technology, but changing healthcare requires much more than a smartphone in every pocket.

“Patient generated health data hasn’t proven its value yet.”

Go to enough health tech events and you might hear some inspiring and challenging statements. “Patients are the most under-utilized resource” in lowering costs and improving outcomes. “Patient engagement is the blockbuster drug of the century.” The potential transformative effect of helping patients contribute to the conversations about their own care, of providers working with patients as true partners, is gobsmackingly obvious to those who seriously consider it. Yet patient generated health data hasn’t proven its value yet, because studies remain small and journals are still working through text messaging intervention studies from years past.

“No one wants your Fitbit data,” but they should.

Many healthcare providers serving on conference panels around the country have declared how little interest they have in Fitbit data. It’s a safe line in the sand to draw, but it mostly demonstrates a lack of creativity. More pioneering healthcare systems see insights in the data the simpler activity tracker devices like Fitbits relay. Sure, no physician or nurse cares if a patient earned their Fitbit “Boat Badge” for hitting a certain step count, but understanding a discharged heart failure patient hasn’t taken their prescribed steps for the past two days is reason enough to pick up the phone. It might be enough to prevent a readmission or even to save a life.

An ever-growing mix of carrots and sticks.

For many years health tech-savvy policy wonks eyed Meaningful Use Stage 3 as heralding the coming age of patient generated health data. As the MU program begins to wane, there are a number of government programs and initiatives that could help drive the uptake of patient generated health data programs, including MACRA’s Merit-based Incentive Payments System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Models (APMs); CMS’ bundled payments programs, like Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR); and even CMS’ Chronic Care Management fee-for-service billing code. For its part, ONC says PGHD is necessary for meeting various requirements of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, its Interoperability Roadmap, the 2015 Edition Certification Rule, Meaningful Use Stage 3, and the Precision Medicine Initiative.

Patient generated health data programs will be crucial to future healthcare systems, join us at MobiHealthNews 2016 to learn from the pioneering healthcare providers, payers, and pharmaceutical companies leading the way on PGHD. Don't miss out, register today to reserve your seat!