Ochsner piloting Apple Watch to manage chronic diseases

Ochsner uses Apple Watch

New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System is the first U.S. hospital to manage patients suffering from chronic diseases using the new Apple Watch.

The hospital is using Apple’s wearable to support its Hypertension Digital Medicine Program, a pilot program that tracks several hundred patients struggling to control their blood pressure. Through wireless blood pressure cuffs integrated with Apple HealthKit and Ochsner’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR), patients regularly measure their blood pressure and heart rate ratings at home while the data is sent directly to the clinic for monitoring. There, pharmacists review the data in real time to make medication adjustments and lifestyle recommendations to insure good blood pressure control. Results are incorporated into MyOchsner, so that patients have access to their EMR and can receive progress reports on their status.

With the Apple Watch, patients receive medication reminders, feedback from clinicians, renewal notification for prescriptions, activity tracking and exercise reminders.With the Apple Watch, patients receive medication reminders which include actual pictures of the pill; feedback from clinicians about potential side effects once a new medication is prescribed; renewal notification for prescriptions, and activity tracking and exercise reminders.

“We recognize that to be impactful with this method, we need to fundamentally change behavior,” explains Richard Milani, MD, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, Ochsner Health System. “We can do this by providing continuous feedback with reminders and words of encouragement to promote lifestyle modification. What better way than to utilize the capabilities of the Apple Watch to make this an easier transition.”

Patients currently enrolled in the program have met the following criteria:

  • Consistently had uncontrolled hypertension with at least three consecutive blood pressure readings over 140/90
  • Use an iPhone 5 or above
  • Registered to MyOchsner and have completed the onboarding questionnaires
  • Purchased the recommended wireless blood pressure monitor

Ochsner recently launched an accelerator called innovationOchsner or iO to drive patient-focused health innovations as well as support companies that are working to revolutionize patient-centered care. Before that, the hospital was the first Epic client to integrate with the Apple HealthKit.