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Healthcare

Apple's HealthKit: Simple But Smart

When is Apple going to enter the health space? That has been the question on everyone’s mind and last night it was answered. At the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple announced the launch of a new app called “Health” that will constantly monitor things like blood pressure, fitness, and diet. This information will then be shared with HealthKit, a new cloud platform where users will be able to access all of their health information stored in one place.

Craig Federighi, senior VP of software at Apple, said:

“Apps can now track “everything from monitoring your activity level, to your weight, to chronic medical conditions like blood pressure and diabetes.”

“But right now that information lives in silos," he added.

With HealthKit Apple wants to provide “a single place that applications can contribute to a composite profile of your activity and health.”

Upon first hearing this news it doesn’t sound particularly earth-shattering. There are already lots of health tracking apps available on the market, some of them more sophisticated than others. But much of the data collected about the individual is useless, if the user does not know what to do with it.  Now Apple’s Health app will not just collect data and stop there. If the health metrics fall outside the healthy range, the app will automatically send a notification to the user’s doctor.

Some might argue that having real time vital statistics to hand will turn many of us into listless hypochondriacs but I disagree. Yes, some people might be more prone to others in obsessing over their heart rate for signs of abnormality. But this doesn’t change the fact that for the first time in medical history, more people are using wearables and apps to manage their health.  Many of us also “google” our symptoms to confirm our worries. Whether we like it or not, self-monitoring is taking off in healthcare and is not going to slow down.

The danger with self-monitoring is that we can be misled by the information we find. A quick search, and something minor could be blown up to epic proportions in our minds. But Apple is proposing a solution that allows the patient to keep track of their health while keeping the doctor in the loop. The result? An empowered patient and better management of health under the guidance of the doctor.

Apple still has a long way to go though. HealthKit’s success is reliant on the adoption of third parties and how quickly healthcare professionals take to it. Apple has received positive response from the Mayo Clinic and is also working with Nike. But it will need the support of lots of hospitals if it is to truly succeed. It is also not very clear how Apple plans to integrate all the information from different apps.

Apple has made a small but decisive move in the mobile health space – and the consequences could be huge for healthcare.


Ayesha Salim is e-Content Writer at IDG Connect

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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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