The Problem I See with Home Health Monitoring

Posted on April 27, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

When I was writing my post about this mHealth infographic, the thought came to me about why I’ve never felt truly comfortable with the idea of Home Health Monitoring (some might call it the Patient Centered Medical Home). I think the problem I see lies in our ambitious goals of what we monitor at home.

As I said a bit in the linked posts, many doctors love the idea of a patient tracking their health information, but their also extremely scared about how they’re going to deal with all of the data coming at them. There are exceptions to this rule, but most doctors don’t usually get a whole bunch of data a patients collected that they have to incorporate into the visit. Sure, a physician treating diabetes will often get a stack of food journals and blood sugar levels. However, most doctors are trained to get the data they need on their own.

I believe this is the real challenge with home health monitoring. In far too many cases I’ve seen mHealth apps that are trying to monitor too much data. Sure, I think it’s great to be ambitious and I think it’s even better to collect as much data as we can. Long term I think that patient collected healthcare data is going to be essential to providing great healthcare. Although, in the short term if we want to break most physicians into Home Health Monitoring, then I think we need to be a little less ambitious and more targeted.

The post mentioned above highlights some things that I don’t think any doctors would be overwhelmed with if they received this information: weight, blood sugar, and vital signs. I’m sure we could add to this list, but a lot can be learned from just these elements. Sure, bringing in full on food journals, sleep data, walking data, exercise data, EKG data, etc etc etc could be useful to a doctor. However, in our current state if you bring all of that data to the doctor you’re likely going to overwhelm them and they won’t know what to do.

I can’t wait for the day we have Smart EMR software that can take the volume of patient collected data and make it actionable for the doctor. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Until then, maybe we need to focus our Home Health Monitoring into bit size chunks that doctors can easily digest and actually use.