At last month’s Brigham Innovation Hub Idea Lab, iHub Chief Medical Informatics Officer Adam Landman, MD, shared some staggering numbers: each year, the U.S. spends $2.8 trillion on health care; up to 98,000 deaths per year in hospitals are due to preventable medical errors; and adults receive only 50 percent of their recommended care each year. But there’s another stunning number to consider: 700 million. That’s how many iPhones have been sold by Apple, and each one of those devices has the potential to help improve health care delivery, cost and access.
At February’s Idea Lab, BWHers gathered to brainstorm innovative ways of using iPhone technology to improve patient care and health care delivery. Landman kicked off the session with an overview of how Apple HealthKit works, allowing patients to select any health apps they want to use and opting in to share their health data with their doctors. Patients can record key metrics such as glucose levels and blood pressure themselves. New sensors and devices for automatically recording metrics are being developed. Regardless of what app a patient uses to collect information, all data can be sent to one central repository and shared with the patient’s physician.
Many research institutions are beginning to develop innovative ways to leverage HealthKit, and Landman encouraged BWHers to begin developing new concepts as well. Apple representatives Warner Yuen and Nina Kominiak both spoke about some of those applications, including using Facetime in the NICU to allow parents to see and talk to their newborns. They also referenced Apple’s Touch ID as a means of unlocking specific apps as an extra layer of security and potential uses for Apple’s new iBeacon location services and mapping technology.
Apple currently has more than 1 million iPhone apps available, but Kominiak noted that Apple is always looking for new ideas and innovations.
“If you have a great idea, let us know,” she told an audience of more than 50 BWHers.
After these introductory remarks, BWHers broke into small groups to begin generating ideas for innovative applications around specific themes, including readmission reduction, physical fitness, mental health, home care and chronic disease management, clinical communication and acute care.
Some of the solutions proposed included creating an algorithm that uses data collected by the gyroscope and HR sensors in an Apple Watch to predict or detect seizures; using Apple IDs as a “handshake” for patients and health care workers to record encounters and keep track of cancellations; and developing a communication system that notifies families and physicians of a patient’s whereabouts in real time.
In the weeks ahead, the Brigham iHub will work to match the most promising ideas and teams of BWHers with software developers who can begin to make them a reality.
“I’m excited to see these promising ideas come to life, drawing on the resources available from Brigham Information Systems, our Innovation Hub and mentorship from Apple experts,” said Pothik Chatterjee, innovation strategy and ventures manager for the Brigham iHub. “After hearing the enthusiasm of our clinicians about the potential for Apple HealthKit applications, it’s clear that hospital and industry partnerships present a powerful way to modernize health care.”
To register for upcoming Idea Labs, including next month’s “Big Data: Harnessing Partners Healthcare BioBank,” visit the Brigham iHub web page.