Electronic health records symposium examines privacy, workload issues

Speakers at Stanford Medicine’s second symposium on electronic health records discussed ways to increase patients’ access to data while maintaining security and decreasing the documentation burden for physicians.

How can electronic health records empower patients and doctors to improve health without exposing data or overburdening clinicians?

That question was at the heart of Stanford Medicine’s second Electronic Health Records National Symposium, held Oct. 11 at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge. The half-day event featured two panel discussions and several research presentations. Nearly two dozen speakers from government, academia and industry recounted struggles and successes with the technology.

Among the speakers was Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, who encouraged attendees to be optimistic about the future and the potential of electronic health records.

“There are absolutely legitimate, important concerns about privacy and about who should have access and how access should be protected,” he said. “But we should be able to address and affirm those concerns, protect privacy and still make health records more interoperable — and very importantly, make them more searchable — so we can derive actionable information from the vast amounts of data that now are in an electronic format.”

Smartphone app encourages physical activity, study finds

As little as a daily ping on your phone can boost physical activity, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and their collaborators report in a new study.

The finding comes by way of the first entirely digital, randomized clinical trial, which sought to answer two overarching questions: Is it feasible to successfully run an entirely digital, randomized clinical trial? And is it possible to encourage people to exercise more by using a smartphone app?

The study, overseen by Euan Ashley, MDChB, DPhil, professor of medicine, of genetics and of biomedical data science at Stanford, shows that the answer to both questions is yes.

Ashley and his colleagues conducted a clinical trial using MyHeart Counts, an app he and other scientists at Stanford developed using Apple’s ResearchKit platform. The app, which was first deployed on smartphones in 2015, was launched to help track physical activity and other heart-related information, such as heart rate. Now, it’s the main tool for a full-on randomized clinical trial, including patient recruitment, consent and interventions. It also returns data to participants.

“In this digital era, we have to think of ways to engage people in their health,” he said. “The number of smartphone users these days is huge, and using an app to host the trial lets us tap into that population. If people are addicted to their phones, maybe we can also get them addicted to their health.”

Stanford Center for Digital Health was Finalist for AAMC Award

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has announced that the Stanford Center for Digital Health (CDH) was one of six finalists for the 2018 AAMC Innovations in Research and Research Education Award.

According to the AAMC, the goal of this year’s awards program was “to highlight innovative institutional models [that] promote tech transfer, entrepreneurship and research or research education partnerships with the private sector.” The focus of the award was a great fit for Stanford CDH, which, as stated in the abstract for the award application, “works to find synergies and create collaborations between Stanford Medicine and digital health companies” with the goal of creating “cutting-edge advancements at the intersection of health care and technology.”

Mintu Turakhia, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine; Euan Ashley, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine and pathology; Ken Mahaffey, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine; and Marco Perez, MD, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine submitted the Stanford CDH abstract and application. It focused on several key areas for the CDH: enabling research; tailored education and community building; and leading flagship studies. It also pointed to the Apple Heart Study and MyHeartCounts apps as examples of “ground-breaking digital health clinical trials and cohort studies [that are] the first of [their] kind, having made major methodological advancements in scaling clinical trials digitally and virtually, and in the evaluation of apps, sensors, and the broad class of digital therapeutics."

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