Introduced last week, and available now in the Apple app store as a free download, the Numera|Net application for Apple iOS is designed to help individuals share information captured on devices such as weight scales, pedometers, and blood pressure monitors. These vital signs are transmitted via the Apple device through Numera's FDA-cleared gateway, which links with EHRs such as EPIC as well as personal health records from HealthVault and HealthTrio.
Patients upload their data using a Numera|Net user account that validates, authenticates, and applies alerts and notifications to the data before sending it directly into a provider's health management system.
"While national incentives are rewarding providers for putting a patient's information into an EHR, Numera enables the patient to contribute by uploading their own timely, vital health data," Numera CEO Tim Smokoff told InformationWeek Healthcare. "The result is a more complete record that can reduce medical errors and improve continuity of care. It also allows patients to participate in their own care at a higher level."
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Smokoff also said that as Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) are established, which will provide a model that ties reimbursements to quality metrics and cost-of-care reductions for an assigned population of patients, Numera's app will be especially valuable for ACOs serving patients with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. "Under the ACO model, chronically ill patients need an easy, familiar way to share the data they collect from their home-health monitoring devices with their physician, who can then determine whether that patient's health is at risk or is being well-managed," Smokoff said. "At the very least, they can use this data to track long-term progress of a patient and see where improvements are happening or need to be made."
Irene Berlinsky, IDC's senior research analyst covering multi-play services, said Numera's challenge is to differentiate itself from the many health monitoring systems already on the market, but also noted that apps like Numera's could prove to be an important tool for patients.
"Such tools could empower patients to take greater responsibility for their health, and as the U.S. seeks to lower healthcare costs and changes the incentive structures for healthcare providers and payers, consumers will find themselves increasingly on the hook for their health," Berlinsky said.
In the meantime, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation is testing Numera's iOS application in a study involving patients with hypertension. During this testing period, patients will upload data from a blood pressure cuff, an activity monitor, and a weight scale through iPhones. The foundation plans to evaluate the intervention in a clinical trial in early 2012.