ONEpple makes it easier than ever for users to get the most out of the mountains with health data already in the palm of their hand.
At its annual technology show, known as the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple unveiled a new feature for users who have chosen to share their medical records on their devices. Users can now choose the types of information they want to share – such as an elevated cholesterol level or their physical activity history – and identify specific people to send it to, such as family members or clinicians.
Apple stated that the data is privacy protected and secured during the upload and download process and will not be shared beyond the selected individuals, including Apple itself. The company also enables physicians using electronic health records created by Cerner, Allscripts, DrChrono and others to view patients̵
The new feature is among a series of new health features that Apple unveiled on Monday across three of the devices: AirPods, iPhone and Apple Watch. Offers include hearing aids, a new feature that assesses mobility and respiratory tracking, all areas that Apple has researched or collaborated with external researchers to study.
Medical record updates come at a remarkable time for the technology giant: On the heels of the recent introduction of a federal rule blocking data blocking and for the first time allowing patients to access their health information using apps, rival Google has recently indicated an interest in explore a tool for patient health records. A handful of start-ups with health registration tools are also increasing their work in the area.
Using the new health registration tool, Apple device users can also see more information about lab tests directly in the app – all without having to go to the competing website Google to find out. For example, by pressing “about” over a result such as LDL, a type of cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein, users see an explanation of the test and its significance.
In addition, users can see how test results can change over time with a new feature called “trends”, which includes data on blood sugar, sleep and physical activity. The results can also be linked directly to iMessage: a user can tap a specific result to create an image of it in the iMessage app and then text about it with a contact.
Another of the new features, called “walking steadiness”, is designed to assess the health of users’ gait and identify the risk of falls. When someone walks with an iPhone tucked in a pocket, built-in sensors measure a variety of statistics at a time, including speed, evenness, stride length, step time and how often both feet are on the ground at the same time.
Combined, these data points provide “powerful insight” into balance, stability and coordination, said Adeeti Ullal, senior manager of motion health technologies at Apple, during the conference. The data used to power the walking tool came from the Apple Heart and Movement Study, Ullal said. If a user’s walking stability is rated by Apple as low or very low – meaning they are likely to roll over the next year – or if it ever drops sharply in the near future, they will receive a pop-up alert on their smartphone. . People with low walking stability scores can also access a series of exercises in Apple’s activity app designed to improve gait health. These exercises are based on an evidence-based training program called Otago recognized by the National Council on Aging.
Apple’s other healthcare offering comes in the “pro” version of the AirPods headphones, where users with mild hearing impairments can be helped to set background noise in an attempt to help users hear their subject more clearly using a tool called “conversation enhancement. ” Finally, the technology giant unveiled respiratory tracking on the Apple Watch, a feature that will alert users if it detects meaningful changes in breathing patterns.
Apple has released results from research on both hearing and mobility in recent months. In February, researchers from Apple and several health systems published a paper suggesting that sensors in the Apple Watch could monitor fluctuations in the symptoms of patients with Parkinson’s disease, including changes in mobility. In March, the company released preliminary findings from a hearing study conducted with the University of Michigan, which suggested that many people are exposed to higher noise levels than those recommended by the World Health Organization, which puts them at risk for hearing loss. Rick Neitzel of the University of Michigan noted in a briefing on the findings that alerts and other instructions can help people change their listening habits.
And in May, the iPhone maker released a white paper summarizing the results of a mobility study that suggested that the device’s sensors could be used to assess users’ functional, daily mobility. “These calculations provide users, researchers and healthcare professionals with a new tool for tracking and quantifying functional mobility,” the researchers wrote.