Apple in the assault on health

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Continuation of our series on the health projects of major digital players. Focus on Apple, which has made health one of its strategic axes.

Apple’s desire in healthcare is to bring a system revolution into place. She wants to disrupt the world of medicine and the pharmaceutical industry as she had disrupted the world of telecoms and the music industry.

Apple already has a foothold in the healthcare market, notably via ResearchKit and CareKit, two open source application platforms, but very strongly linked to the iPhone and the Apple Watch, and already present in the best medical establishments in the United States. United.

With its many partnerships and almost unlimited funding capacities, it plays a growing role in research on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and autism.

With Apple Watch, ResearchKit and CareKit, its president, Tim Cook, believes that Apple “ democratize »Health equipment. ” We give everyone the opportunity to manage their health. And we are only at the beginning. I really believe that, in the future, it will be said that Apple’s most important contribution to humanity will have been in health. », He insists.

The American firm has also opened its Fitness & Wellness Center, where it regularly organizes large physiological data collection sessions, in which hundreds of people participate.

To move forward on these e-health projects, Apple has recruited several dozen doctors, in particular to join the teams responsible for the design of future products. Apple even operates two clinical trials through a subsidiary, AC Wellness, whose doctors are independent, but whose data can be traced back to the parent company with the consent of the patients, who are all Apple employees, or family members of employees.

We believe that a relationship of trust with our patients, supported by technology, encourages high quality care and a unique patient experience. », Indicates the company.

Apple Watch at the heart of the strategy

Apple’s smart health connected watch now offers a number of features to monitoring daily health. It can help meet sleep goals, keep track of important information about their heart, check their blood oxygenation levels, or track their menstrual cycle.

In 2017 and 2018, a research team from Stanford University School of Medicine collaborated with Apple to conduct the Apple Heart Study on the detection of atrial fibrillation. This abnormal heart rhythm is one of the main causes of stroke and hospitalizations. More than 400,000 people using Apple Watch have helped validate the ability of wearable technologies to aid in the early detection of this often undiagnosed disease. The study resulted in the Arrhythmia Notification being made available today on the Apple Watch.

Since 2018, Apple has integrated an electrocardiograph in its Apple Watch. Thanks to new sensors, the watch offers to perform an electrocardiogram directly from the wrist which allows to know if the heart beats regularly or if, on the contrary, it shows signs of weakness synonymous with a possible heart disease. The device has received the approval of the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) which considers this smart health connected watch as a medical device in its own right.

In 2019, Apple entered into a partnership with the Janssen Pharmaceuticals laboratory to collaborate on a study in atrial fibrillation, a disease affecting 33 million people worldwide and responsible for 130,000 deaths in the United States. The objective is to assess the impact of a wearable technology using in particular the Apple Watch, for the early detection and diagnosis of this disease, and thus the improvement of its results for patients, including the prevention of this disease. ‘cardiac arrests.

Other features are also present in the Apple Watch:

  • Fall detection: When Apple Watch Series 4 (or later) detects a bad fall, it displays an alert and allows the wearer to quickly call emergency services or ignore the alert. If the person does not respond for about a minute, Apple Watch automatically calls emergency services and sends a message to emergency contacts. This feature is on by default for people 55 and over, but anyone can set it up in the Apple Watch app on iPhone.
  • Medical card: it allows first aid and emergency department physicians to access a patient’s essential health data (allergies, illnesses, current drug treatments, choices regarding organ donation, etc.) from the lock screen of their iPhone or Apple Watch, without a code and without compromising the confidentiality of their data. The patient can complete their Medical Form in the iPhone Health app to mention important information, for example allergies, illnesses, current drug treatments, their choice of organ donation and his emergency contacts.

New flagship project: Health Records

The medical record, which constitutes the link between the patient and his doctor, is at the heart of the challenges for Apple. The American firm worked for several years with Health Gorilla on the design of a service centralizing all medical data. Objective, to create a medical file stored in the iPhone.

After the United States, the American firm is gradually rolling out the Health Records application around the world. It allows quick access to important information about his health with data from his iPhone, Watch and third-party applications. You can easily follow the evolution of your health with all the detailed daily data.

The app uses machine learning to identify the data that matters most to the user, like exercise minutes or vital signs, and then highlights that information as key points. Thanks to the interactive graphs, the user can see at a glance their long-term health trends or consult them in detail.

The user can record and classify health data of all kinds and browse them easily: blood sugar, weight, heart rate, hearing, menstrual cycle, etc. The application also makes it possible to enter various symptoms, follow their evolution and learn how to interpret them.

Apple’s goal is to give iPhone users the tools to review, store and share their own medical information, including lab results, allergy lists, etc., by making it available in some form. digital and centralized.

The solution deployed with Health Gorilla enables physicians, clinics and laboratories to exchange information about their patients and clients via the cloud. Appointments can be made through this platform, the results of analyzes (blood samples, X-ray images, etc.) are transmitted between practitioners and their patients or between patients and members of their families.

Likewise, doctors can send one of their patients to a specialist colleague, attaching the necessary medical information. All things that today are most often done on paper or via websites – to download blood Review results for example – without any interoperability with other platforms. The data collected automatically forms an electronic medical record of the patient, with the history of his doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, Review results, etc.

Projects in sleep

In 2017, Apple bought Beddit, a Finnish startup specializing in sleep analysis. Its sensor, the Beddit Sleep monitoring takes the form of a rectangle that is placed directly on the mattress, while monitoring is carried out on the dedicated application. Based on its experience, and that of Beddit, Apple can now monitoring sleep, but will also soon be able to detect sleep apnea.

This overview is not exhaustive of the projects carried out by Apple in the health sector but shows the strategic importance of this sector for the American firm.

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