You know that health app that popped up on your phone when you upgraded to iOS 8? It's about to revolutionize your relationship with your healthcare provider.
You may have noticed that the fancy little app on your iPhone works as a pedometer, tracking your steps walked and flights climbed each day. If you've delved in deeper, you may also have noticed that it can measure all aspects of your health and wellness, either manually, or when paired with other apps and gadgets. And soon, your doctor — with your permission — may have access to that data on a regular basis, making it easier for her to connect with you when red flags are raised and before treatment is needed.
It's all part of a new pilot program called Apple HealthKit, in which hospitals partner with Apple to access patient-generated health information like blood pressure, weight or heart rate.
The idea is to give doctors the tools they need to monitor patients for signs of trouble before medical care is needed with the overall goal of avoiding repeat hospital admission, which healthcare providers are now penalized under new U.S. government guidelines. Using the Apple HealthKit, doctors can be rewarded for intervening before treatment is needed — such as when a patient's blood sugar levels appear unstable — rather than after a diabetic emergency has occurred.
According to a new Reuters report, a number of hospitals have signed on to access the new Apple program. Google and Samsung also have fledgling mobile health care programs in the works, although they haven't generated as much interest yet as Apple's tools.
So, how will the HealthKit work? The app on your phone acts as a central location for storing your health information by pairing with various devices — everything from fitness trackers to sleep monitors to WiFi-enabled scales to blood sugar monitors. With your OK, this health data can be streamed in real time directly to your doctor's office and the staff there can keep track of your statistics. If things seem out of whack, your doctor's office may give you a call and suggest a preventative visit.
It may seem a little big-brotherish to imagine a world in which people are monitoring every heart rate spike and sleepless night you experience, but for someone like say, my mother who has a number of health problems, it feels like a good way to keep an extra pair of eyes on her day-to-day health.
What do you think about the new Apple HealthKit? Would you want your doctor to monitor your daily health stats?
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