July 20, 2022
How Apple supports people with their health information
A new report shares how Apple products are helping users, developers and healthcare organizations advance personal health, research and care
Today, Apple released a new report that provides a snapshot of how Apple products are empowering people to be at the center of their health and act as intelligent guardians of their health and safety. Users, developers, medical institutions, and healthcare organizations around the world use Apple devices, features, and APIs to break down barriers between people and their health information while respecting privacy.
Apple’s health promotion efforts fall primarily into two categories, which are detailed in two corresponding sections of the report. The first section describes Apple’s focus on personal health and fitness features on Apple Watch and iPhone that provide actionable, science-based insights and help protect the health and safety of users. The second section shares Apple’s work with the medical community to support research and care. Both sections — along with an Enhancements and Spotlights section at the end of the report — include a variety of examples of third-party developers, healthcare institutions, and organizations innovating with Apple technology.
“We strongly believe that technology can play a role in improving health outcomes and encouraging people to live healthier days, and we’re excited by the many ways users are benefiting from our health and fitness features and the nature and how third-party developers, institutions, and organizations use Apple technology to advance health and science,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Our vision for the future is to continue developing science-based technology that empowers people with even more information and acts as an intelligent guardian of their health, so that they are no longer passengers on their own health journey. Instead, we want people with meaningful, actionable insights to be firmly in the driver’s seat.”
Empower users on their personal health journeys
Since the release of the Health app in 2014 and the Apple Watch in 2015, Apple has introduced a wide range of innovative health and fitness features with the goal of giving users easy-to-understand, meaningful insights to empower them through life a healthier life. The report outlines the four pillars of Apple’s health and fitness capabilities: 1) providing a centralized and secure place for users to store and view their health data in the Health app, 2) offering features that enable Apple Watch to be smarter To act as guardians for users’ health, 3) to offer features that help users improve their day-to-day health and fitness for better health outcomes, and 4) to promote innovative third-party health and fitness apps with developer tools.
With the release of iOS 16 and watchOS 9 this fall, Apple Watch and iPhone will offer features focused on 17 areas of health and fitness, from heart health and sleep to mobility and women’s health and more. Over the years, customers of all ages have shared how these health and fitness features have transformed their lives. Several tell their stories in the report, including customers who have discovered serious heart problems, received emergency help after a fall, or have dramatically improved their health through daily activity.
Users can now store over 150 different types of health data from Apple Watch, iPhone, and connected third-party apps and devices in a single view in the Health app, in addition to available health data from connected institutions in the US, UK, and Canada. There are now tens of thousands of apps on the App Store that use the HealthKit API, which allows developers to integrate data that users want to share from the Health app to offer innovative health and fitness experiences with strict privacy and data security protocols. The report highlights examples of globally popular HealthKit-enabled apps like Nike Run Club, Calm, and WeightWatchers, as well as a growing number of HealthKit-enabled apps – including Qardio Heart Health and Withings Health Mate – that use connected accessories to give users tracking and monitoring enable even more aspects of their health to be monitored.
Supporting the healthcare ecosystem by collaborating with the medical community
Apple believes the strongest health innovations come only through direct collaboration with the medical community, and the report describes four categories of that collaboration: 1) developing tools that enable researchers to make new scientific discoveries, 2) helping to empower them meaningful data on the doctor-patient relationship, 3) collaborating with health organizations to promote healthy lifestyles at scale, and 4) supporting public health and government initiatives.
The ResearchKit framework gives researchers the ability to recruit study participants from a large user base of iPhone and Apple Watch users, and empowers participants to share health data to advance science. Through the Research app, Apple has worked with Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association, and the University of Michigan and the World Health Organization to help users in offering the United States the opportunity to participate in three unique research studies: the Apple Women’s Health Study, the Apple Heart and Movement Study, and the Apple Hearing Study. The report includes initial findings from the studies as well as information about other studies Apple has supported, such as the Heart Failure Study with University Health Network and the Digital Mental Health Study with UCLA.
Health Records on iPhone in the Health app, along with apps and devices developed by third parties using Apple developer tools, help strengthen doctor-patient relationships with meaningful data. Health records are now available to patients at 800+ facilities in 12,000+ locations, allowing patients to view their available medical records from multiple providers at any time within the Health app. Research has shown that connecting patients with their care teams remotely leads to better outcomes when the Corrie Health app, at-home UVA health care programs, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs loan Apple devices to veterans to connect with their VA to connect health services. Nursing teams at Ochsner Health System and NHS Sunderland are better able to help patients with chronic conditions, and remote monitoring reduces costs and length of stay in the NICUs at Odense University Hospital and University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, the Babies are able to come home with their parents but remain connected to care teams remotely.
Healthcare organizations and companies around the world – including Paceline in the US; Vitality Active Rewards in the US, UK, South Africa and Australia; and LumiHealth in Singapore – have worked with Apple to integrate the Apple Watch into their wellness programs. There are currently 55 programs running in 17 countries with over a million users participating in an incentive program utilizing the Apple Watch. These programs have been successful in increasing participants’ physical activity and adopting health behaviors, such as B. Aiming to strive for more regular sleep patterns, focusing on mindfulness, and sharing healthier eating options.
Finally, the report highlights Apple’s partnerships with physicians and local governments, which provide unique opportunities to support their critical public health work, including developing apps and features during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Scientifically based and designed for data protection
All of Apple’s health and fitness features are designed around two overarching principles:
- Rigorous scientific validation processes: Apple’s in-house clinicians are deeply involved in the product development process, working hand-in-hand with engineers and product designers. This, combined with collaboration with experts from leading research institutions, ensures products and features are science-based and user-friendly.
- Data protection in the center: Privacy is a core value at Apple, and privacy is critical to sensitive healthcare data. Apple’s health and fitness features put user privacy at the core and provide users with protection, including transparency and control. When iPhone is locked with a passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID, all health and fitness data in the Health app — except for Medical ID — is encrypted, and all health data synced to iCloud is encrypted both in transit and on Apple -Servers encrypted. And if a user has a recent version of watchOS and iOS with standard two-factor authentication and a passcode, their health and activity data will be stored in a way that Apple can’t read. Health app data is never shared with third parties without the user’s express permission, and when users choose to share their health data, the Health app provides users with granular control over what types of data they share and with whom they share. You can review and manage permissions at any time.
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