Patient Engagement: Do FitBit Results Count Toward MU?

September 5, 2013 | By More

Ask Joy: This Week - Patient Generated Health Data

Let’s talk about patient engagement from a slightly different angle. These days, any patient with a smart phone or gadget has access to thousands of mobile health applications. Whether they are monitoring their sleep habits, heart rate, blood pressure, number of steps they take per day or how high they can jump, they’re more actively engaged in self-monitoring than ever before. But, one big question remains:

When my patients bring in Patient Generated Health Data (PGHD), does that count as patient engagement for Meaningful Use? 

Unfortunately, at this time, and in Stage 1 and Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, the answer is no. PGHD alone does not count toward Meaningful Use as patient engagement.

To meet the patient engagement requirements for Stage 2, EPs must meet:

  • Core objective #7 – Provide patients the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within four business days of the information being available to the EP
  • Core objective #17 – Use secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information.
  • CQM – EPs can choose a quality measure in the Family and Patient Engagement domain

However, if you have patients that are sourcing their own data and bringing it to you for review, you are in a great position. While this instance alone does not qualify as meeting a Stage 1 or Stage 2 Meaningful Use objective, you are certainly closer than you may think. For one, you have a patient that is actively interested, dare I say, engaged, in tracking some aspect of her health. Now, all you have to do is harness that enthusiasm. Send a reminder to her to keep up the good work or invite her to enroll in the patient portal so she can download her medical record and have an even more complete view of her health. Take it one step further and use your EHR or PHR’s secure messaging system to ask her to share future results, and you’re setting yourself up for success on achieving at least 5% of patients using the portal.

If that approach works for one patient, maybe it will work for more. You could create an ad hoc report in your EHR for patients with similar conditions and send out a recommendation to try a particular self-monitoring app. It’s this type of creative action that will get you to Meaningful Use.

About 70% of adults in the U.S. use a health tracking device (i.e. a Fit Bit, sleep monitor, blood glucose monitor, etc) to track an indicator of their health or activity. For patients looking to better understand their health, they’ don’t have to look much farther than their smartphone. Use this to your advantage. Ask your patients if they use any self-monitoring applications. Engage them. This gives you a clue as to what they care about, it means they’re paying attention to their health and motivated to do something about it.

And though Stage 3 is still a few years off, the ability for patients to electronically submit PGHD is being recommended for the final stage of Meaningful Use. Providers who embrace PGHD will not only be ahead of the game, but will likely be favored among patients.

About the Author: Joy Rios has worked directly with multiple EHRs to develop training programs for both trainers and practice staff. She has successfully attested to Meaningful Use for multiple ambulatory practices in both Medicare and Medicaid. She also authored the Certified Professional Meaningful Use course for Joy holds an MBA with a focus in sustainability. She is Health IT certified with a specialty in Workflow Redesign, holds HIPAA security certification, and is a great resource for information regarding government incentive programs.Ask Joy is a regular column on 4Medapproved HIT Answers.

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Category: Patient Engagement

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