Apple's HealthKit May Improve Health Data Reporting

Will using HealthKit during the day keep adverse events away? Apple Inc. certainly hopes so.

Will using HealthKit during the day keep adverse events away? Apple Inc. certainly hopes so, as it has entered into research studies with 2 major hospitals to determine how its new tool will work in practice, Reuters reported in September.

Although HealthKit is still under development, the service aggregates data from various mobile health (mHealth) apps, once the patient consents to it. From there, health care providers can view the collected data, which can be gathered from tracking apps or compatible peripheral devices.

The goal is to improve health data reporting speed and accuracy, and potentially warn patients of impending problems.

A Stanford University Hospital study will involve tracking blood sugar levels for children with diabetes, while a Duke University study will track blood pressure, weight, and other factors in patients with cancer or heart disease, Reuters reported.

Despite its data-sharing potential, the proposal faces some hurdles, particularly regarding patient privacy. Storing data in a single location can make it vulnerable to hackers. Furthermore, the majority of mHealth apps lack privacy policies that would protect patient data, researchers revealed in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Apple is considering privacy options, including creating policies on data storage security and forbidding advertising sales based on the data for third-party developers, Reuters stated.

Although technology advances appear to hold great promise for progress toward health goals, any efficacy relies on patients using the resource. While research on wearable activity monitors has found goal-setting, self-monitoring, and feedback capabilities align with health care professionals’ recommendations, success is likely influenced by an individual’s preferences and needs.

Likewise, University of Arkansas College of Pharmacy researchers who investigated medication adherence apps found the apps have potential to mitigate medication nonadherence. Despite this issue, the investigators noted that a simple solution is not likely to completely solve a complex problem.

“I think this is going to be a technology that can help some people who have trouble remembering taking their medications…(but) I don’t think anyone is viewing this as a silver bullet,” said Bradley C. Martin, PharmD, in an exclusive interview with Pharmacy Times. “We think this is going to be one of the tools that patients or clinicians can pull off the shelf that will work for some patients.”

During the interview, Seth Heldenbrand, PharmD, added, “What we’re hoping these apps can do is fill that gap and assist the patients when they are not in the presence of a health care provider.”