3 thoughts on privacy and security with Epic and Apple Watch

In June, Omaha-based Nebraska Medicine announced it was utilizing Apple Watch as a tool to help boost patient engagement.

Patients at Nebraska Medicine can use Apple Watch to access Epic's MyCare app to view messages, appointment details and medication information. The Apple Watch will also be able to notify wearers when test results, billing statements and health maintenance reminders are available on their iPhones.

Michael Ash, MD, chief transformation officer at Nebraska Medicine, wants to keep moving forward in the realm of technological capabilities, but wants to do so while erring on the side of caution, he told Healthcare Info Security. "We want to push the envelope, but we want to do it in a way that's very, very safe," he said.

To ensure this type of safety, Nebraska Medicine is picking and choosing which Apple Watch capabilities to utilize. For example, the voice capabilities of Siri have been disabled on the Apple Watch to address HIPAA violation concerns.

Here are three more of Dr. Ash's key thoughts on privacy and security regarding EHRs and the Apple Watch.

On Nebraska Medicine's main privacy and security issues: "We are picking and choosing. We didn't go with the cheapest glucometer out there that was able to electronically transmit that info. Instead we chose one that was demonstrated to work with very secure, encrypted technology to make sure that info is being safely transmitted to our nurses. We're looking at each area, each app, and even each vendor to make sure they're meeting the HIPAA requirements and that they're demonstrating their ability to securely transmit that data back and forth."

On suggestions for other healthcare organizations considering wearables, remote monitoring devices, etc.: "Be open-minded to the capability and what consumers and patients are really asking for. A lot of docs in the earlier days, even in our orgs, is they're afraid that this is going to be more info, more bothersome to them than necessarily helpful from a care and management of chronic diseases. Be very open to where tech is going and where it can take us as are providers and how we manage our patients.

From the security [standpoint], as you're open-minded looking forward you also have a responsibility to make sure that info is being very secure, and so really work with your vendor partners, work with them closely to make sure the interfaces are one in such a way the info is being transmitted v securely."

On how Nebraska is working with Epic: "What we're really working with Epic is around what's called their Healthy Planet app, which is part of chronic condition management. How can we use this app, and what are the features that would really help our care providers, our nurses in particular, better interact and more efficiently interact with people with diabetes, as an example. Epic has been very responsive. We've had numerous meetings with their senior leadership all the way down to their engineers actually coding the capabilities to make sure its going to meet the needs of the patients we serve."

More articles on health IT:

8 Epic EHR implementations with the biggest price tags in 2015
25 things to know about telemedicine
UAB selects athenahealth's coordination platform; Cerner stock fell 0.46%; Deaconess Health System integrating Epic into Fitbit — 6 health IT key notes

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