For the past few years, retail giant Amazon has been making quiet forays into the healthcare field. We’ve written about this here and here. Amazon’s latest healthcare venture involves a health tracking device, similar to Fitbit and Apple wearable devices.
Amazon has partnered with Cerner to develop Halo. Data from the devices can be shared directly into Cerner EHRs. Shareable data types include the user’s temperature, heart rate, sleep and fitness information and even voice analysis of energy and positivity when the user turns on one of two microphones.
Sharp Healthcare in San Diego is the first healthcare system user of the technology.
What are some reactions to this innovation from Amazon? Here are some observations.
- Halo includes data that is not provided by other trackers, such as information on emotional state through voice analysis, which can indicate stress. The user’s daily routine is reflected by tracking exercise, medicine schedules and sleep patterns. This type of data can be especially useful in the pandemic setting. But how useful is this information for clinicians? The response varies from “helpful” to “not so much.”
- Halo’s integration with Cerner and Amazon Echo enables more real-time information updates. Reminders from Echo to take medications can help to improve medication compliance, plus it can order refills when medications run low. Workflows on the care provider side can be improved as well due to a decreased administrative burden and more information to use for decision making. One clinician suggests that using AI to summarize data for presentation to clinicians in a useful manner can be helpful, but it’s not known if Halo providers this or if it must be done by the EHR.
- Security of user data and privacy are of concern. What information will Amazon be tracking and collecting and will it be used for purposes other than Halo? Users must be able to consent to data collection and be able to access and delete their information if they choose to do so. The Halo data is encrypted according to Amazon, and users have the ability to delete data and voice samples.
- Halo is another example of technology that promotes virtual care, remote monitoring and healthcare consumerism. Consumers are looking for and expect a more personalized type of digital interaction with their providers.
- While tracking and monitoring one’s health is an important function, there’s more to look for in the future with wearable devices. Finding ways to improve one’s health and functioning are on track for the next generation of wearables.