Monday, March 21, 2016

Apple's Plan To Be At The Center Of Healthcare: "Talk to Your iPhone and See Me in the Morning" (AAPL)

From MIT's Technology Review:
Apple wants to put its devices at the center of health care by figuring out how to solve medicine’s version of the last-mile problem. Today, Apple launched software to help hospitals and others more easily create apps that let patients manage their own conditions, such as by following a digital version of doctors’ orders, recording and tracking symptoms (with medical selfies, among other methods), using dashboards to check their progress against recovery goals, and uploading reports to hospital medical records systems.

The CareKit framework, which will be released to developers in about a month, sprang out of Apple’s experience since last year with medical research projects carried out on the iPhone. One, a study of Parkinson’s disease, suggested that an app that asks volunteers to perform finger taps and other dexterity tests on their phones could help patients adjust their drugs and might actually be able to diagnose the disease.

“We were starting to see the potential results, and we think it’s a profound change,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in an interview in December.

People close to Apple describe the company as “ecstatic” over the findings, and over anecdotal reports that the pulse monitor in the Apple Watch has identified serious health crises, including allergic shock or heart irregularities.

Apple says it thinks patients and doctors are ready to see—and share—more data from their phones. And it’s in a big hurry to help. CareKit appears to have been developed on the fly since January. As of yesterday, Apple was still deciding what to call various features.

The company today announced about a half-dozen apps that are in development, including an updated version of mPower, the Parkinson’s app; another by the Texas Medical Center to help surgery patients track their recovery; and one, from the startup Glow, to guide women through pregnancy.

Apple may be promoting new ways to track and trade health information, but it’s not yet proposing to diagnose diseases or have the apps play doctor. That’s because doing either of those things would require approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and, consequently, further research to determine if the benefits are real....MORE