HackensackUMC on the cutting-edge of mobile technology with fitness trackers and health apps that sync with EPIC MyChart

July 1, 2015 12:47 PM

Hackensack University Medical Center is one of the first healthcare facilities in the country to sync fitness trackers and other devices to electronic medical records using the EPIC MyChart app.  Found in the Apple App Store and Google PlayStore, the MyChart app allows the patient direct access to test results, prescription information and requests, managing appointments and communication with your primary care physician.  Recently, the IT department at HackensackUMC under the direction of Shafiq Rab, Chief Information Officer, helped to enable the Track my Health section of the MyChart app to include a synchronization with the Apple’s HealthKit app, fitness trackers, and other healthcare devices such as blood pressure cuffs, scales, blood glucose monitors, and FitBit activity trackers by using the Apple HealthKit app as the intermediary. 

“Patients are already tracking their health with FitBit, Withings, home scales, and other medical devices.  What we are doing is opening up the portal to share this information directly with the physician and keep an ongoing conversation about your health with your doctor,” says Dr. Rab.  “We are streamlining information through Apple HealthKit so that data now flows to the cloud into the MyChart app and into the patient’s electronic medical record.”

The HackensackUMC IT Department and Hackensack University Medical Group physicians are also giving feedback to EPIC (the hospital’s electronic medical records system) and helping to further develop the app for use nationwide. 

Sarah Timmapuri, M.D., cardiologist and member of the Hackensack University Medical Group has begun using the app with her patients.  Her first patient to try the app is Gary Wilhelm, who recently had a heart attack and is using the app to have constant communication with Dr. Timmapuri about his progress.  Gary uses a FitBit activity tracker and syncs the data through Apple’s HealthKit app and MyChart.  They are both able to email back and forth through the app and talk about how many steps he has walked throughout the day or week.  Gary also uploads nutrition data onto the MyFitnessPal app which also syncs with MyChart and sends the information directly to Dr. Timmapuri.  Both have supplied feedback to the HackensackUMC IT department to provide improvements to the app. 

“Since my heart attack, I have found that tracking my steps and nutrition was the first step to getting back to a healthier me.  Having Dr. Timmapuri checking and sending me emails via the app has given me so much encouragement throughout the process,” says patient, Gary Wilhelm.

While other hospitals across the country have and use the MyChart app, HackensackUMC takes it a step further in enabling the Track My Health section of the app.  This is where the other apps, trackers, and data can interface with MyChart.  Through Apple HealthKit, nutrition data, steps taken, weight, blood pressure and blood glucose can be captured and transferred into MyChart and directly into the patient’s electronic health record.  This gives the physician a well-rounded picture of the patient when having discussions at appointments.  It also provides a chance for the doctor to continually monitor without a patient visit and comment directly to the patient about his/her progress.

"Right now we only see our patients for about a 15-minute visit in the office, and it's a very constricted view," said Dr. Lauren Koniaris, pulmonary critical care physician HackensackUMC. "This really globalizes the view of their health status, so that we're really in contact with them on a much more daily if not hour-to-hour basis. It's almost like a virtual house call."

Currently, Hackensack University Medical Group has three physicians using the program and six patients tracking health statistics such as carbohydrates, calorie intake, cholesterol, protein, fiber, saturated fat, sodium, sugar, total fat, steps, and flights climbed.  As the interface from the apps become more dynamic, sleep data and heart rate data will hopefully soon be uploaded to the MyChart app as well. 


About Hackensack University Medical Center

HackensackUMC, a nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is the flagship hospital of Hackensack University Health Network, one of the largest health networks in the state comprised of 1,250 beds, nearly 10,000 employees and 2,700 credentialed physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospital rankings for 2014-15. It is one of the top 30 hospitals in the nation by receiving 11 national specialty rankings, including a national ranking for the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Neurology and Neurosurgery in the 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospitals. The children’s hospital is housed with the Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital in the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center, and was included on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is among Healthgrades® America’s Best 100 Hospitals in five different areas, is one of Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals™ for eight years in a row, and received the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ 13 years in a row. The medical center has also been named a Leapfrog Top Hospital, and received 23 Gold Seals of Approval™ by the Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and was Official Medical Services Provider to The Barclays PGA Golf Tournament and the NY/NJ Super Bowl XLV111 Host Committee. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events. To learn more, visit: www.HackensackUMC.org.   




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