In an effort to advance its HealthKit framework, Apple has reportedly been developing a pair of new apps for the Apple Watch.
One will help users track and analyze their sleep and the other will their track fitness levels by measuring the time taken for the heart rate to fall from its peak to resting level, Bloomberg reports.
The company has hired “scores of healthcare experts” to develop improved electronic health record software and help turn the Apple Watch into a tool that diagnoses disease.
“The ultimate goal of Apple’s medical technology team is to turn HealthKit into a tool that improves diagnoses,” sources said.
Bloomberg’s Alex Webb writes:
The system could chip away at two problems that plague the industry and have stumped other specialist firms in the field: interoperability—allowing data to be transferred from hospital to hospital across different databases; and analysis—making it quick and easy for physicians to extrapolate salient information from mountains of data.
Turning the Apple Watch into a diagnostic tool of sorts may not necessarily require new sensors. According to a source, an accelerometer inside an Apple Watch can already generate most of the useful data needed to monitor a person’s well-being. A dedicated glucometer or blood-pressure sensor would only help “a small percentage of users”.
Tim Cook is adamant that Apple can help advance healthcare.
“If you drive for a while and your car gets too hot, it says pull over. If you need an oil change, it says check your oil. What’s the equivalent for the body?” he said at a May conference in Amsterdam. “Health is a huge issue around the world and we think it’s ripe for simplicity and a new view.”
watchOS 3 has brought out the ability to track swimming along with a new Breathe app that helps users relax a bit by taking deep-breathing exercises. Both watchOS 3 and the Health app in iOS 10 feature support for wheelchair users, too.
iOS 10’s Health app has also gained the ability to register as an organ, tissue or eye donor, support for a couple of new data types and the ability to store encrypted health records stored in the Health Level 7 Continuity of Care Document (HL7 CCD) format.
The latter feature permits doctors to receive patients’ data from the Health app in an appropriate format to easily track years of their health data. Your doctor can also optionally share your HL7 CCD records from the Health app with other doctors.
However, were Apple to turn the Apple Watch into a tool that can diagnose disease, it would first need to obtain an FDA approval.
“If they are going to an FDA device, it would need to have enough battery life to last a day, and something where it independently functions from your phone,” according to a health-care consultant cited in the article. An FDA approval would also require the wearable device to include an embedded cellular chip so it could work standalone.