Apple Takes Another Bold Step Into Health

Apple Takes Another Bold Step Into Health

John Nosta 26/01/2018 8

OK, it’s all the rage. Apple takes another step into the healthcare marketplace. Now, it’s bringing your health records to your smartphone. But here’s the word that Apple used that really caught my attention: effortless. That’s the way Apple is describing their new health record system in a January 24th blog post

Apple announces effortless solution bringing health records to iPhone.

It’s a simple concept. An update to the Health app with the iOS 11.3 beta offers users the ability to see their medical records right on their iPhone. Apple positions this app as a bridge that connects hospitals, clinics and the existing Health app make it easy—effortless, as they say—for patients or caregivers (or, I guess in this case, consumers) to see their medical information from multiple sources with a single glance at their iPhone

Now, let’s all take a deep breath.

Imagine all the times you needed a copy of this medical report or that x-ray. It’s far from effortless. If fact, a significant and messy issue surround medical records and the electron health record (EHR) has been the vast complexity of everything from the digitization of information to the ability of various electronic systems to speak with one another. The word that describes this connectivity itself is even hard to say: interoperability. Yet, it’s a critical task and would represent a major advance in digital health’s movement to drive to the quantified self and the democratization of health.

Apple claims that consumers will now have medical information from various institutions organized into one view that covers allergies, medical conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vital signs, and will receive notifications when their data is updated. Further, Health Record's data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode. The list of participating institutions is impressive and represents academic prowess as well as geographic distribution.  

·      Johns Hopkins Medicine - Baltimore, Maryland

·      Cedars-Sinai - Los Angeles, California

·      Penn Medicine - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

·      Geisinger Health System - Danville, Pennsylvania

·      UC San Diego Health - San Diego, California

·      UNC Health Care - Chapel Hill, North Carolina

·      Rush University Medical Center - Chicago, Illinois

·      Dignity Health - Arizona, California and Nevada

·      Ochsner Health System - Jefferson Parish, Louisiana 

·      MedStar Health - Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia

·      OhioHealth - Columbus, Ohio

·      Cerner Healthe Clinic - Kansas City, Missouri

Among the promotional and lofty lexicon that Apple has embraced that includes ‘bold’ and ‘effortless’ lies another word from the past: Google.

In 2008, Google introduced its own attempt at a personal medical record called Google Health. The basic concept was to have individuals enter their own health information and have it merged with existing information from healthcare providers. It’s sounds a bit similar to Apple’s current attempt. Google Health died at the early age of three. Privacy concerns as well as basic technology short falls might have doomed Google’s idea. Perhaps, it was just a concept ahead of it’s time.

Other names that will play a key role include the EHR powerhouses like Epic and Cerner. Already associated with many of the test sites, it will be very interesting to see how Apple can play in the EHR sandbox and accomplish something that had been on many clinicians’ and consumers’ wish lists.

We’ve seen how Apple has made the consumer experience in technology a model for other industries. From technological innovations to UX, the iPhone has transformed our lives. Now, Apple is attempting to tackle an area of health information technology that has been both difficult and frustrating.

I’m optimistic. 

I’m skeptical. 

I’m carefully watching this devolvement and looking for more disruption in healthcare system and to see if Apple can again be the game-changer.

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  • Nicolas Florenzi

    This is a risky move from Apple, but I am sure they know what they are doing

  • Todd Matheson

    This could backfire, let's see what will happen

  • Corey Burnett

    I am skeptical but Apple is one of the few tech giants that is capable of disrupting the healthcare system.

  • Matthew Lifsey

    Thanks for sharing this brillant piece with us

  • Benjamin Ciders

    Google should stick with its search engine and forget about healthcare. I hate their marketing strategy, it's like they are forcing us to buy products we don't need. Honestly, I am tired of their emails even their mobile phones have flopped. Apple, on the other hand, is the real deal. They easily attract our attention because they focus more on user experience, that's why their products are simple to use.

  • Mike Schwartz

    Thanks for the info

  • Fredrik Persen

    I use the Apple health app to motivate myself to be more healthy

  • Luis Salazar

    I am seriously considering picking an Apple Watch after reading your article

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John Nosta

Digital Health Expert

John is the #1 global influencer in digital health and generally regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in this important and expanding area. He is also one the most popular speakers around the globe presenting his vibrant and insightful perspective on the future of health innovation. His focus is on guiding companies, NGOs, and governments through the dynamics of exponential change in the health / tech marketplaces. He is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, pens HEALTH CRITICAL for Forbes--a top global blog on health & technology and THE DIGITAL SELF for Psychology Today—a leading blog focused on the digital transformation of humanity. He is also on the faculty of Exponential Medicine. John has an established reputation as a vocal advocate for strategic thinking and creativity. He has built his career on the “science of advertising,” a process where strategy and creativity work together for superior marketing. He has also been recognized for his ability to translate difficult medical and scientific concepts into material that can be more easily communicated to consumers, clinicians and scientists. Additionally, John has distinguished himself as a scientific thinker. Earlier in his career, John was a research associate at Harvard Medical School and has co-authored several papers with global thought-leaders in the field of cardiovascular physiology with a focus on acute myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

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