Cupertino, CA – As fitness trackers and wearables saturate the market, more and more patients are stepping into their doctors’ offices armed with personal health data. A recent study gave a glimpse into what they are looking for when sharing these data with their physicians, and several themes emerged. First, they want healthcare providers to see the tracking info as a more complete glimpse into their daily lives. They also want help interpreting what the data mean, and ultimately they want their doctor to use the data to build a personalized and actionable treatment plan. While all of these wants may seem reasonable on paper, they are a lot to ask of today’s physicians who are already working under increased financial and scheduling pressures. Christina Chung, the lead author of this study stated “We’ve heard doctors say more and more that people bring this data into the clinic and they’re just overwhelmed by it. When you’re managing chronic disease or symptoms, day-to-day lifestyle tracking data can be useful, but doctors don’t have a way to use these data efficiently and effectively.”
Apple Aims to Empower the Physicians of Tomorrow
While HealthKit has been part of the iOS infrastructure for years now, it has primarily worked in the fitness-tracking realm. Heart rate and physicial activity insights may be valuable to individuals, doctors need proof that these can have broad clinical significance—they also need more powerful tools to help convert that raw information into useful diagnoses and treatment plans. Several recent Apple announcements point to real progress on that front. From hiring top research physicians to acquiring a tech firm that specializes in pulling and consolidating electronic health records from diverse sources, Apple is making even more substantial moves in the healthcare space. CEO Tim Cook is not shy about Apple’s ambitions: “If you drive for a while and your car gets too hot, it says pull over. If you need an oil change, it says check your oil. What’s the equivalent for the body? Health is a huge issue around the world and we think it’s ripe for simplicity and a new view.” If Apple can figure out a simple, elegant way to incorporate their customers’ health-tracking data into the patient-physician conversation and give the latter the tools to interpret and use that data that fit into their existing systems, the future of both Apple and healthcare should be brighter.
Why This Matters –
While several key players in healthcare, from GSK to Duke University, have already engaged on the front-end with Apple’s health platforms, there is plenty of room for others to join in and drive progress forward. In the interim time until Apple’s diagnostic solutions are widely available, brands have an opportunity to build value by offering solutions that can help HCPs utilize all of the personal tracking data that their patients are bringing in with them. Companies that successfully manage to build and market relevant tools that help HCPs with this acute need should expect to be met with gratitude and increased engagement.