Apple last week released a report detailing how its products "are empowering people to be at the center of their health" through its two-pronged approach to health care, which includes offering tools that support users on their personal health journey and engaging with the traditional health care industry.
Apple began its foray into the health care market when it released its Health app in 2014, followed by the release of the Apple Watch in 2015. Since then, the company has released a variety of health and fitness features aimed at providing insights that can empower users to live healthier lives.
For example, its electrocardiogram application can be used to detect heart rhythms, and its recently released blood oxygen application measures blood oxygen saturation levels—an important metric for patients with Covid-19.
In the report, Apple provided a comprehensive view of its health care strategy in the eight years since it debuted health features on its devices. It detailed the company's four focus areas for health and fitness features:
1) Providing a secure, centralized location to store and view health data in the Health app
2) Offering features that allow the Apple Watch to effectively monitor users' health
3) Offering features that help users improve health outcomes
4) Supporting third-party health and fitness apps with developer tools
The report claims that Apple's tools have helped users rethink how they interact with their health. According to the report, the company believes that "providing individuals with insights into their health and fitness empowers them to set and stick to personal health goals and, when necessary, seek guidance and care from their medical providers."
According to Apple COO Jeff Williams, who manages the company's health initiatives, the company will continue to innovate in "science-based technology."
"The health innovations we've pioneered have aimed to help break down barriers between users and their own everyday health data, between health-care providers and patients, and between researchers and study participants," Williams added.
Ultimately, Apple believes the best health innovations are made possible "through direct collaboration with the medical community," the company said in a news release.
The report details four categories Apple emphasizes when collaborating with the medical community:
1) Creating tools to help researchers make scientific discoveries
2) Strengthening physician-patient relationships with meaningful data
3) Working with health organizations to encourage healthy lifestyles
4) Providing support to public health and government initiatives
Apple prioritizes using its products to help users communicate meaningful health care data to providers. "We support nurses, physicians, and healthcare professionals on their mission to deliver the best care to their patients. Our technologies, devices, and clinical apps help enable hospitals, clinics, and other providers to deliver better care for their patients by helping communication and workflow within the care team and by enhancing the patient experience from registration all the way through discharge," the report said.
In addition, Apple highlighted its ResearchKit framework, which gives researchers the ability to recruit study participants from a database of iPhone and Apple Watch users. So far, Apple has collaborated with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Brigham and Women's Hospital, American Heart Association, University of Michigan, and World Health Organization through its Research app to give users around the country the opportunity to participate in research studies.
"We believe passionately that technology can play a role in improving health outcomes and encouraging people to live a healthier day, and we are excited about the many ways users are benefiting from our health and fitness features, and by the ways third-party developers, institutions, and organizations are using Apple technology to advance health and science," Williams said.
"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," he added. (Gurman, Bloomberg, 7/20; Apple, Empowering People to Live a Healthier Day report, 7/20; Balasubramanian, Forbes, 7/25; Nellis, Reuters, 7/20; Apple news release, 7/20)
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