‘Everyday’ Health Monitoring, Information Gathering Could Create Health Intelligence

Health information and intelligence are beginning to reach outside of the current health information technology infrastructure and into the everyday lives of people. This technology-enabled, person-centered care will be crucial as the population ages and the healthcare delivery system continues its transformation. The “big action” to enable this change will take place in the community—not healthcare institutions , said Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, a keynote presenter at the Long Term and Post Acute Care Health IT Summit, on Monday.

Brennan, a professor in the school of nursing and college of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and program director of Project Health Design, said that health-related information must become useful in everyday living. Known as “Observations of Daily Living (ODL),” as addressed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Project Health Design, ODL capitalizes on what happens to a person’s health during day-to-day living and is captured using technologies such as active and passive sensors, mobile devices, patient-generated health data and information, and new types of data such as geo-sensing codes. The aim is the early identification of sometimes subtle changes in a person’s health in order to invoke the required interventions necessary to maintain and improve one’s health.

The leap to this new way of managing health and health conditions is not without its challenges. For example, it has yet to be seen how a person or healthcare organization could analyze and store these large amounts of data for individuals. Also, a question exists of whether or not to integrate this information into the electronic health record (EHR), and if this should even be done at all. Perhaps most importantly, researchers still need to figure out how to leverage and integrate the data into clinical workflows and decision-making.

However, “health happens every day,” Brennan said, and the benefits of understanding what is going on with a patient’s condition on a day-to-day basis has been demonstrated to assist both patients and clinicians to effectively manage health problems—particularly chronic conditions. The data can be converted into information that patients and their doctors use to make necessary changes to care and lifestyle that lead to better overall health.

According to Brennan, four conditions are necessary to make person-centered and technology-enabled care feasible:

  1. Active, engaged patients
  2. Deliberate practice conditions that focus on using information
  3. Knowledge-generated research grounded in practice
  4. A supportive policy framework


To build effective tools that create knowledge about what happens in peoples’ everyday life and how that impacts their health will require the help of everyone in the care continuum. The right policy framework around health information technology infrastructure will need to be in place so healthcare delivery systems have the ability to implement and use this type of health intelligence system.


Lydia Washington, MS, RHIA, is a senior director if HIM practice excellence at AHIMA.

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