Apple’s recent unveiling of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch showcased the company’s interest in establishing themselves in the burgeoning digital health market. Jay Blahnik, Apple’s director of Fitness and Health Technologies, presented the Apple Watch in a promotional video saying that it’s "designed to help anyone who wears it live a healthier life by being more active.”
Although health apps have been around since the first iPhone, this is the first time that the company has worked directly in tandem with medical professionals from the Mayo Clinic and other big names in healthcare to develop the hardware and software for the new devices. HealthKit, the company’s all-in-one fitness app tracks steps, heart rate, blood sugar, calories burned, nutrition and other vitals in an electronic file for doctors and other family to access. It also syncs with existing fitness apps like MyFitnessPal and Nike+ to add comprehensive social and gamified properties to encourage users to make healthier choices.
Apple’s “moral obligation” to move into the health industry is not without criticism, however. A number of industry experts have voiced concerns over the privacy and protection of such a vast amount of intimate data. These come off the back of the recent iCloud breach in which nude photos of celebrities were leaked. The legal implications of giving medical advice to individuals via apps is also somewhat of a grey area. Although there is no history of medical malpractice suits against developers, the law is “unclear about the doctor’s responsibility if they are provided with incorrect information by the patient using a health app.”
As we approach these new frontiers one thing is certain, the digitization of health care is going to be an exciting and hotly debated topic. Although we’re still a week away from the launch of the iPhone 6, and the Apple Watch isn’t due to come out until 2015, users looking to get fit, diet and generally improve their health have a heap of options to choose from already:
Seven has a novel approach to gamified fitness. One of the major criticisms of motivating users to better health is that the badges, experience and rewards offered by apps don’t have a lasting value. Seven resolves this by focusing on maintaining a seven minute, daily routine that users have to maintain for seven months to see results. If users miss a day, they lose a heart, if they miss three workouts in a month, the progress resets and they have to start again.
Fitbit is another exciting gamified health app. It logs a wide array of metrics for walks, runs and workouts as well as allowing users to log calorie intake and assign their own goals. What sets Fitbit apart from the rest, however, is that the goals you accomplish are rewarded with coupons, discounts and other prizes – further blurring the line between digital and corporeal.
Jawbone is one of the most successful early adopters of wearable tech. The app collects and processes data from a small, colourful wristband to track fitness and exercise as well as encourage users to achieve their personal goals.
Medscape is an app designed specifically for medical professionals. It provides instant access to the latest medical journals and news sources, a live database of drug information and medical calculators, as well as access to continuing medical education courses.Add a comment Add a comment