Apple made a number of health related announcements at WWDC 2021. Building on the several years of innovative health features for the iPhone and Apple Watch, Apple’s iOS 15 will continue that trend. Apple shared advanced health and wellness insights for users and new tools for support and care teams.
Apple advances personal health with several enhancements at WWDC 2021
The new health sharing functionality will allow users to securely and privately share verifiable health and wellness data with their care team - family, trusted partners or caregivers - through the new sharing tab (including COVID-19 immunization and test results).
Some of the examples Apple provided were “an aging parent who shares their activity or heart health data with a family member, a partner who chooses to share their fertility window insights, or a person with Parkinson’s disease who wants to share their mobility data with a physical therapist.”
This will require user permission, but the Health app can keep and track valuable data that can be shared with their physician directly through leading electronic health records systems (EHRs). This is big news for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies that want to design and build patient care apps and programs for their customers.
Multiple EHR Engagements and Integrations
iOS 15 users will be able to store medical records, immunizations and test results in the Health app. Patients can download verifiable COVID-19 vaccination or test result records from an online browser or QR code, so they can easily access them at any time.
With the new iOS 15 support for the SMART Health Card, a verifiable health record will incorporate the FHIR health data standard. Apps can now request access to this record and verify the signature of the file using CryptoKit and the issuer's public key. So for example, an airline app or sports league app can ask the user for permission to view that vaccine record and have business logic built for it.
Enhanced Labs Experience
iPhone users will be able to access Health Records and Lab Results through the Health App. They will be able to also access educational content about common lab tests and results.
The Health app will add trend analysis for 20 types of data which will help users track changes in their health. Users will be able to see important and sometimes subtle changes, while also being able to keep track of goals. With notifications enabled, these important, but sometimes subtle changes won’t be missed.
Apple has taken what was an analog questionnaire and an in-person evaluation, to modernize how we monitor and reduce fall risk. They are utilizing the user's iPhone and a custom algorithm to assess balance, stability, and coordination to alert users of a fall risk, which impacts 37 million people each year.
Finally, privacy is a large concern when it comes to health information. As we’ve seen with Apple over the past several years, they are giving the user complete control of their health data. Apple does not have access to any of the users information and everything is end-to-end encrypted as well. The patient has full control to stop sharing their alerts and activity information from their permissions view. For example, a user can revoke sharing access at any time, or limit which categories are shared.