Activity Tracker Study 660

Small pilot study examines adding remote activity tracking to electronic health records

Activity Tracker Study 660
A small pilot study at UMass Chan Medical School will determine how to effectively integrate patient wearable device data into electronic health records and enable providers to help patients set and monitor physical activity goals.

Millions of weight-loss Americans wear wireless activity trackers to keep themselves accountable, but what if their Fitbit data was also shared with their doctors?

A small pilot study at UMass Chan Medical School will determine how to effectively integrate patient wearable device data into electronic health records and enable providers to help patients set and monitor physical activity goals.

“Most people think they need to reach 10,000 steps a day to receive positive health benefits, but that’s just making an increase right above our baseline and how that can translate to positive health benefits over time. And as part of someone’s routine clinical care , it can have a positive effect because people really care about what their providers are telling them,” says Jamie Faro, PhD, assistant professor of population and quantitative health sciences.

The pilot study, led by Jeevarathna Subramanian, MD, associate professor of medicine, and Dr. Faro, is supported by a $25,000 grant from the Ambulatory Research Consortium at UMass Chan.

Patients selected for the study will be fitted with a Fitbit to sync with the Apple HealthKit mobile app with patient portal electronic health records.

“Being physically active is one of the most important actions we can all take to improve our overall health,” said Dr. Subramanian said. “Improving physical activity reduces the risk for several chronic medical conditions, including weight management.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does provide guidance on how much physical activity is needed for adults of all ages.

The study will be done remotely. The primary focus will be to track the number of steps each patient takes per day. According to Faro, this is an easy metric to display to suppliers and track over time. As part of the study, researchers will determine how providers want to receive notifications about their patients’ device data, how often they want to communicate with a patient about the data, and how to provide goal-setting strategies for the patient moving forward.

Investigators plan to recruit a diverse patient population.

“The patient population is less represented in this type of research. So, we really want to get an understanding of their perceptions of a program like this and how we can provide the support needed to make it easily accessible to them,” said Faro.

The study will start in February and last until November. Nina Rosano, MD, assistant professor of medicine, and one of the co-investigators for the pilot program, will develop the next trial that may include behavioral support for providers and patients in using the wearable devices as part of usual care.

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Tracking heart rhythms through smartwatches a ‘marriage of science and medicine’
UMass Chan researchers study digital pulse sensor to aid drug rehab, improve treatment

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