For several years, Apple has been developing miniaturized sensors and health monitoring technologies for their flagship products: the iPhone and Apple Watch. And with great success, if we look at what has been achieved since the first smartphone was introduced in 2008.
The report entitled Empowering people to live a healthier day, released in July 2022, shows that the company’s ambition is to break down barriers in access to data and information, helping citizens make better health decisions. It allows patients to “take the wheel” of their own health and make technologies their “personal guardians.”
“Our vision for the future is to continue to create science-based technology that equips people with even more information and acts as an intelligent guardian for their health, so they’re no longer passengers on their own health journey. Instead, we want people to be firmly in the driver’s seat with meaningful, actionable insights,” says Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer
What can your smartphone do for your health and well-being?
The report outlines the four pillars of Apple’s health and fitness features:
- giving users a central and secure place to store and view their health data in the Health app,
- offering features that enable Apple Watch to act as an intelligent guardian for users’ health,
- offering features that help users improve their everyday health and fitness for better health outcomes,
- fueling innovative third-party health and fitness apps with developer tools.
We have summarized what already iPhone and Apple Watch can do.
Health. All data is in one place. The central health-related function of Apple’s smartphone is the Health app. It gathers data from other apps and wearables, allowing a real-time trend analysis. The recently introduced functionalities (iOS 16) include medication tracking. Among the most popular solutions are hearing protection, sleep quality monitoring, meditation guidance and the possibility of determining the time spent on selected apps.
Health Records. EHR is now accessible on a smartphone. In the Health app, patients treated in selected healthcare institutions in the U.S., U.K., and Canada can access their medical records containing information about their medications, vaccinations, and laboratory test results on the iPhone. In addition, with the iOS 16 system, users can create PDF files with a summary of their health records.
Apple Watch. Small but powerful health monitoring center. It’s not only just a watch or a smaller smartphone on the wrist but mainly a device packed with sensors tracking health and physical activity parameters. Now Apple Watch can monitor heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels, take an ECG and detect falls and atrial fibrillation (AFib). According to one study, the smartwatch allowed to increase physical activity in 30-40% of its users. Its hallmark is the so-called rings on the watch face. The user’s task is to close them by exercising, doing physical activity, and burning calories.
HealthKit. Virtual research studies for everyone. Every person who has a smartphone and/or a smartwatch can potentially donate their data containing health parameters to clinical studies. For example, the largest virtual study in history, Apple Heart Study conducted together with Stanford University, attracted 400 000 participants.
COVID-19-related functions. New-generation protection. During the pandemic, Apple introduced a function that automatically measures handwashing time and an interface (API) enabling the implementation of applications for COVID-19 contact tracking.
External applications. Support in preventive treatment and lifestyle changes. And, of course, thousands of other apps developed by external companies transfer data to the Health app. Apple Store now offers more than 50 000 fitness and medical apps.
Click here to download the report Empowering people to live a healthier day. Innovation using Apple technology to support personal health, research, and care.