Last week Apple made great strides towards the improvement of personal health in the mobile arena at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). With the unveiling of Health, a new app arriving this Fall by way of the latest iOS 8 operating system update, iPhone and iPad users will be able to streamline all existing health-related apps into one single, dashboard-like place. You will no longer have to check into multiple apps to track things like steps, calories, blood pressure, or weight or the like.
Just as other well-anticipated Apple products in the past, there has been a lot of speculation when it comes to what everyone is expecting. Here’s what we know so far:
- About 60 current apps are being worked on so that they sync with Health prior to its launch. HealthKit will allow developers to siphon their own information into the app, working like a liaison for the data repository.
- Information about personal health, akin to emergency card information, like your blood type and allergies, will be accessible from the lock screen and managed by the app.
- Mayo Clinic was the first health system to partner with the company. There will be a reporting system back-and-forth between the app and their facilities that will work around personalized parameters to notify a physician that a patient needs more timely care. It will also work with the patient to better manage their own care.
- Apple also partnered with Epic Systems (which accounts for over half of all medical records in the U.S.) to facilitate medical record/EHR sharing. It is thought that the remaining will eventually either work with Epic or have to venture off to work with Apple on their own.
- There will be some functionality via Facetime, the devices front-facing camera, to eventually allow providers, like physicians, to assess and speak with a patient in real-time. There have been no official mentions of any tele-medicine companies getting involved just yet.
- Bluetooth-connecting devices that already interact with Apple’s devices, such as Nike’s FuelBand, Jawbone’s UP, and FitBit, will sync to the app. There is still no word on an Apple-produced wearable of this sort.
Ultimately, if a user is active and participates in providing diverse data, the app could be a helpful tool by providing a current snapshot of one’s health. Though the idea seems simple enough, it has never been done on this grand of a scale. By partnering up with big names, Apple will certainly be able to pick up enough market shares to see results.
The only thing that would make this release even more innovative would be if Siri would remind me to take my vitamins and schedule my routine exams. In the meantime, this Type-A/MyFitnessPal-using/RunKeeper obsessive is really excited for what is to come.