Ochsner Health System First in Nation to Manage Chronic Diseases with Apple Watch

Pilot program helps patients with high blood pressure

Ochsner Health System First in Nation to Manage Chronic Diseases with Apple Watch

NEW ORLEANS – Ochsner Health System, based in New Orleans, LA, announced today that it is the first hospital in the nation to manage patients suffering from chronic diseases using the new Apple Watch. Chronic disease accounts for 7 of every 10 deaths in the U.S. and more than 80 percent of total healthcare costs.

The Apple Watch is a tool used to enhance the effectiveness of the Ochsner Hypertension Digital Medicine Program, a pilot program that tracks several hundred patients who are struggling to control their blood pressure. Through wireless blood pressure cuffs integrated with AppleHealthKit and Epic, Ochsner’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR), patients regularly measure their blood pressure and heart rate ratings at home while the data is sent directly to the clinic for monitoring. Specialized pharmacists review the data in real time to make medication adjustments and lifestyle recommendations as needed to insure good blood pressure control. Results are incorporated into MyOchsner, the system’s online patient portal, so that patients have access to their EMR and can receive progress reports on their status.

Through the Apple Watch, patients now can receive medication reminders which include actual pictures of the pill; feedback from clinicians about potential side effects once a new medication is prescribed; renewal notification for prescriptions, and activity tracking and exercise reminders.

“Typically, hypertension patients see their physician a few times a year. Now, we are offering a new way to deliver care in patients with chronic diseases in which we can communicate with the patient in a more intimate way, more frequently,” explains Richard Milani, MD, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, Ochsner Health System. “We recognize that to be impactful with this method, we need to fundamentally change behavior. We can do this by providing continuous feedback with reminders and words of encouragement to promote lifestyle modification. What better way than to utilize the capabilities of the Apple Watch to make this an easier transition.”

Just ask Andres Rubiano, a 54-year-old suffering from chronic hypertension and Ochsner’s first patient to use the Apple Watch. Andres was diagnosed with hypertension when he was just 33-years-old. Despite the fact he is not overweight, a non-smoker, was cognizant of his sodium intake and lives an active lifestyle, his condition worsened and became less manageable as he aged – something that could be attributed to a strong family history of the disease.

“Before enrolling in the program, I had this unwavering anxiety questioning whether I was doing enough to maintain my blood pressure, and if I was at risk for future cardiac procedures, heart attack or stroke, even though I was on medication,” comments Andres. “For the first time in my life, I feel a sense of peace and comfort knowing that I’m under constant supervision and receiving high-quality care with little effort throughout my daily routine. This is the way healthcare should be.”

“This makes health tracking less of a burden for the patient,” echoes Valentina Guzman, PharmD, BCPS, Ochsner Health System. “Diet, exercise and medication adherence are all critical factors in managing hypertension. Using the Apple Watch is a step in the right direction so patients can take control of their healthcare needs. In working with Andres, we’ve seen how invested he has become in his care which only motivates him to get better.”

“I’m really excited to be the first Ochsner patient to use a different interface to monitor my progress,” adds Andres. “I think the Apple Watch will serve as a “buddy”, nudging and encouraging me to make changes in my lifestyle that will help me better control my blood pressure. I think this could be a game changer for me.”

Patients currently enrolled in the program have met the following criteria:

  • Consistently had uncontrolled hypertension with at least three consecutive blood pressure readings over 140/90
  • Use an iPhone 5 or above
  • Registered to MyOchsner and have completed the onboarding questionnaires
  • Purchased the recommended wireless blood pressure monitor

Ochsner recently launched an innovation accelerator called innovationOchsner or iO to drive patient-focused health innovations as well as support companies that are working to revolutionize patient-centered care. Our focus is to develop new and creative ways to use data and technology to empower patients, including their social network, to take an active role in their care, and for healthcare providers to better and more efficiently manage patient conditions.

In October 2014, Ochsner was the first Epic client to integrate with the Apple HealthKit.


Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 13 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 50 health centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across nine specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 90 countries worldwide each year Ochsner employs more than 15,000 employees, nearly 1,000 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 750 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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