Apple and Zimmer Biomet partner to improve the patient journey
Established in 1927, Zimmer Biomet is situated in more than 25 countries worldwide and is renowned as a global leader in musculoskeletal healthcare. The company has recently partnered with technology pioneer Apple, with the aim to utilise Apple Watch and iPhone technologies to transform the patient journey for two common surgeries - knee and hip replacements.
The partnership follows on from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s decision to provide an innovative payment programme for knee and joint replacements which can reduce costs of care by close to 10%.
The partnership will utilise Zimmer Biomet’s app mymobility, which will use Apple Watch to facilitate a new level of connection between patients and their surgical care teams. Additionally, the company is launching its mymobility Clinical Study which will study the app's impact on patient outcomes and overall costs for joint replacement patients.
During this research study, patients will use Zimmer Biomet mymobility with Apple Watch as they progress through their hip or knee replacement journey. Researchers will combine patient-reported feedback with continuous health and activity data from Apple Watch to provide new insights into the power of the Zimmer Biomet mymobility app to impact the standard of care for these common surgeries in the US.
Facilities participating in the mymobility Clinical Study include:
- Academic centers: University of Utah Health; Rush University Medical Center; University of Pennsylvania Health System; Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital/Emory Healthcare
- Hospitals: Hoag Orthopaedic Institute in Southern California; Newton-Wellesley Hospital, member of Partners HealthCare founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital; Centura Health, Porter Hospital – Colorado Joint Replacement (CJR)
- Group practices/ambulatory surgery centers: ROC Orthopaedics, affiliated with Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center; OrthoBethesda; OrthoArizona; Midwest Center for Joint Replacement; Hartzband Center for Hip & Knee Replacement; New Mexico Orthopaedic Associates; The DeClaire LaMacchia Orthopaedic Institute, affiliated with Michigan Institute for Advanced Surgery; Joint Implant Surgeons; Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic; Panorama Orthopaedic and Spine Center
"We are incredibly excited to work with Apple to transform the knee and hip replacement experience for patients and surgeons," commented Bryan Hanson, President and CEO, Zimmer Biomet.
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"At Zimmer Biomet, we are committed to improving care decisions through digital health and we are thrilled to launch one of the largest evidence-gathering clinical studies in orthopaedic history."
"We believe one of the best ways to empower consumers is by giving them the ability to use their health and activity information to improve their own care," said Jeff Williams, Chief Operating Officer, Apple.
"We are proud to enable knee and hip replacement patients to use their own data and share it with their doctors seamlessly, so that they can participate in their care and recovery in a way not previously possible through traditional in-person visits. This solution will connect consumers with their doctors continuously, before and after surgery."
More than one million knee and hip replacements occur annually in the US. This number is expected to grow to 3.5mn by 2035, yet standardisation of care and recovery costs to the US healthcare system continue to rise.
Through the partnership, the technologies will therefore act as a virtual and continuous care team. Patients will be provided with support and guidance as they prepare for and recover from these surgeries, while surgeons will be delivered continuous data to optimise care.
Zimmer Biomet’s mymobility app has several features that use both Apple Watch and iPhone through the joint replacement journey, including the ability for surgeons to send education and therapy reminders directly to the patient's Apple Watch. The app also allows surgeons to monitor patient activity levels throughout the days and weeks while they are preparing for and recovering from surgery.
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025.
At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance.
Meeting regulation requirements
It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.
Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.
However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.
Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk.
With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?
Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.
Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.
Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools.
When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone.