Project to test smartphone, sensor ability to assist with treatment

March 25, 2010

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded more than $2.4 million to five grantee teams to test whether and how information?such as the stress levels of caregivers of premature infants and medication-taking routines of senior citizens at risk of cognitive decline ? can be collected, interpreted, and acted on by clinicians and patients in real-world clinical settings.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded more than $2.4 million to five grantee teams to test whether and how information--such as the stress levels of caregivers of premature infants and medication--taking routines of senior citizens at risk of cognitive decline - can be collected, interpreted, and acted on by clinicians and patients in real-world clinical settings.

The nationwide Project HealthDesign: Rethinking the Power and Potential of Personal Health Records, is led by a team working in health information technology and patient-centered care at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The project will use newer technologies such as smartphones and sensors to gather information on diet, exercise, sleep patterns, medication usage, and pain.

Each team will receive a two-year, $480,000 grant, expanding on the $9.5 million in grants and technical assistance the foundation has committed to the project since 2006.

Earlier Project HealthDesign research revealed that the data needed to inform day-to-day health decisions came less often from the data contained in people's official medical records, and more from information gained by monitoring their health in everyday life. These data--on patients' diets, sleep patterns, moods, medication effects, and other factors--appeared to be a valuable platform for software decision tools, or "apps," that could help people record their data and make day-to-day decisions. Further, patients sharing this information with their medical providers helped both parties determine how treatments were working and guide any needed adjustments.

"Data from observations of daily living...can give clinicians a much richer understanding of what goes on with their patients in between office visits, and then they can base their treatment recommendations on better, more comprehensive information," said Stephen Downs, assistant vice president of RWJF's Health Group.