All Of Your Medical Records In One App
There’s never been a better time to monitor and track your health. Anyone interested in tracking information about themselves can use sophisticated activity-monitoring gadgets like Fitbit and Pebble, countless diet and weight tracking apps, and even high-end medical devices that track glucose levels, blood pressure, or blood-oxygen levels.
There’s just one problem: Most of these gadgets and apps live in their own worlds, making it difficult to put together comprehensive health stats for yourself. Whether you’re monitoring a serious condition or just trying to make sure you’re in the best health possible, this fractured approach is a major impediment.
Fortunately, fractured health tracking may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to Apple Healthkit, a revolutionary tool for iOS 8 to close the patient medical record gap. Announced by Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, at this year’s WWDC, HealthKit is a framework for health and fitness apps that enables them to communicate with each other – the goal being to collect and manage your health information from one central location.
This location is the app itself, simply called Health. You can view your information in the app, then choose to share your info with other health apps. This way, if multiple apps want your blood pressure, you can measure it in one app and choose to automatically share it with every app that needs it. The app will enable doctors to get critical patient data. Within Health, there are several critical patient metrics that can be easily made available to a new doctor, or they can be a vital resource if a patient is unresponsive in an emergency situation. The metrics include, but are not limited to: diagnostics, lab results, medications, vitals such as heart rate and blood pressure, medical conditions, allergies and reactions, etc.
1. You can track your fitness progress with devices like Fitbit or Nike+.
2. Vitals, such as heart rate can be tracked with a connected device. The results can be relayed to your doctor if something abnormal shows up, your doctor can immediately notify you.
3. Health Medical Records in your pocket – with your permission, your doctor can monitor your health remotely and in real time.
4. Imaging – in the future this app has the capability to be able to display your images, which could be life saving in an emergency situation.
According to Dr. John H. Noseworthy, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, Apple’s HealthKit has the potential to “revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people.” With this revolutionary app, our healthcare system will forever be changed. Your doctor will no longer have to take time to search for all your past records, he will not have to convince you to sign a consent to release your records to him. The data will always be there at your fingertips to track and share.
The downside to HealthKit is that it won’t work with every health app and gadget out of the box. Instead, it provides APIs that allow app developers to “hook” their applications to HealthKit. In short, if you want to connect your Fitbit to HealthKit, the developers of Fitbit need to make it happen. If Fitbit and similar companies decide not to make their products compatible with HealthKit, you’re out of luck.
The good news is that Apple has jump-started the process by partnering with major app developers, so HealthKit will already work with some apps out-of-the-box. Federighi specifically called out the Nike+ FuelBand in the WWDC presentation, stating that it could build a custom user profile based on sleep and nutrition metrics. Apple also specifically mentioned the Mayo Clinic, which has its own app that helps patients communicate with their physicians. Using the Mayo Clinic app, the Health app can even send alerts to medical professionals if the user’s vitals hit a certain threshold.
If HealthKit is adopted by health app and gadget developers, it could be a major boon for personal information tracking. Having all of your tracking information in one place – and the ability to control what apps do and do not have access to that information – would simplify self-quantification and make it easier than ever to control and monitor your information.