Smartphone ‘geofencing’ could help track chronic care

A location-tracking app could be used to help track and manage care for patients with chronic diseases and provide feedback on helpful lifestyle changes, according to researchers from the University of California, San Francisco.

“As the prevalence of chronic disease increases with the aging population, there is a need for improved health care monitoring and more timely treatment between encounters with health care providers,” senior author Gregory Marcus, MD, MAS, a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) health cardiologist and director of clinical research in the UCSF Division of Cardiology, said in a press release from the university. “Our app only had moderate accuracy, but this approach could revolutionize not only the way we ascertain if someone is sick, but also could be relevant to geofencing any location for a number of health care-related studies or interventions.”

The researchers provided a smartphone app, developed by along and the researchers, to 3,443 adults from 50 states. The app used “geofencing,” a location-based program that defines geographical boundaries. The app tracked patients when they entered a hospital, which prompted a questionnaire when users were located in the hospital for more than 4 hours.

According to the researchers, the app alone was 65% accurate in identifying when a patient was in a hospital and how long they stayed. In addition, an in-person component of the study included patients with a known hospital visit for electrophysiology and cardiac catheterization procedures. These patients brought their phones with the installed app on the day of their scheduled procedure to respond to notifications. Investigators found in-person patients reported a high ease of use and low burden of use at the 1-week follow up, with high interest in continued use of the app during the 1-week and 1-month surveys.


Nguyen KT, et al. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2017;doi:10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.116.003326.

Disclosure: Support was provided by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health award 1U2CEB021881, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute PPRN-1306-04709, Clinical and Translational Research Fellowship Program TL1 TR000144, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, National Institute on Minority Health and Disparities R25MD006832 and Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation.


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