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Digital Health: Comparing Apples & Googles

With more and more clever devices like smart watches hitting the market, it’s becoming easier to track everything from our daily steps to the weather. Technology is paying off in the healthcare field as it evolves, and everyone wants to be a part of the journey. With companies like Apple and Google getting in on the action, what does this mean for the medical field as a whole?

Patients and Data Tracking

Whether it’s a Fitbit, Jawbone or a smartphone app, patients are using it. The “Tracking for Health” study released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that 69 percent of adults track a health indicator for themselves or others.
In turn, this means that medical professionals are meeting more patients who have a ton of personal information at their fingertips. When people walk into the doctor’s office, they are prepared to discuss their latest health concerns, thanks to technological advances. They may already know their blood pressure, heart rate or sleeping patterns as a result of these tools.

Apple Taps into the Potential

Apple proved that it was serious about its dive into the healthcare field when it debuted HealthKit with iOS 8. In short, HealthKit allows individuals to bring together all of the data from their health and fitness apps and store it in the Health app – one neat, tidy place.
This also creates a tighter connection between physicians and their patients. Through the technology, individuals can send data directly to their doctors via apps. This can save valuable time in the actual doctor’s office and hone in on any underlying health problems.“Heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, cholesterol — your health and fitness apps are great at collecting all that data,” Apple writes on its website. “The new Health app puts that data in one place, accessible with a tap, giving you a clear and current overview of your health.”

Finding a Niche in Hospitals

Since HealthKit launched, it’s made its way into hospitals, and physicians are seeing numerous benefits. In U.S. hospitals, more doctors are utilising Apple’s technology to keep tabs on their patients remotely, according to Reuters.
The news source contacted 23 top hospitals across the country, and 14 stated that they had rolled out a pilot program of Apple’s HealthKit service. The technology allows medical professionals to monitor chronic conditions, such as diabetes, from afar. In turn, this reduces overall healthcare costs and the number of hospital admissions.Apple has said that more than 600 developers have integrated HealthKit into their health and fitness apps.

The Unveiling of ResearchKit

In addition to launching HealthKit, Apple developed ResearchKit, and it may be a glimpse into the future of medicine.
ResearchKit is a software framework that was specifically created for medical research. It’s open source, which means that users can collaborate, regardless of their physical location. This gives researchers the ability to work alongside each other in a virtual space. Massachusetts General Hospital, the American Heart Association, the University of Oxford and Stanford Medicine are just some of the many organisations already using ResearchKit. Individuals who own an iPhone can use ResearchKit to participate in medical studies and submit their data to researchers. However, users maintain control over how much information is shared – researchers can only access the data that is selectively shared, which helps iPhone users maintain privacy.The information that is shared via ResearchKit eliminates handwritten surveys and forms, as well as the need for data entry and storage. Instead, medical professionals can access study data directly from their iPhone, which allows them to focus more on research.“ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations.

Google Joins the Party

As Apple garners more attention for its developments in healthcare, Google has moved in to steal the show. Google Fit arrived with the debut of Android 5.0 Lollipop, it appeared to have some of the same features as Apple Health.
Data tracking is the one big feature that it has in common with Apple’s technology. Google Fit allows individuals to track their activity, weight and heart rate over time. The Web interface is accessible from anywhere, and it comes preloaded onto Android Wear items.That being said, Google Fit still has additional plans in the works – plans that could make it a more versatile asset for medical professionals. Google Fit will aggregate data through open APIs, and the company eventually intends to partner with other wearable device makers, according to Forbes.However, it’s Google Fit’s basic features that may make it more appealing to the average technology owner. For example, Android smartphone users can view their health data in a convenient chart via Google Fit. It’s this type of simplicity that could eventually boost its use and popularity.

The Adoption of Patient-Oriented Technology

In order for medical professionals to reap the benefits of these innovations by companies like Apple and Google, patients need to use the technology. Now the question is whether individuals will buy into the idea of tracking – and sharing – their personal health data.The “Wearable Technology and Preventative Healthcare” report by TechnologyAdvice has found that about 43 percent of adults do not have any concerns surrounding the use of these assets. However, 60 percent of them said that they did not specifically use a device or an app to track their healthcare data. Nearly 43 percent said they did not have a specific reason for not tracking their health, which indicates that there is still underlying potential.About 14 percent said that they intend to start using a device or app in the near future, which could pave the way for companies other than Apple and Google to enter the field. As the general population becomes more interested in healthcare, the medical industry is bound to evolve in the coming years.One thing's for sure - the gap between patients and doctors will continue to close as more innovations pop up on the scene.  Do you need help in creating your very own Digital Tracking system?  

At PharmiWeb Solutions we help our customers understand what their customers want from a digital experience and deliver on this.  Contact us to find out more.

20th August 2015