- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On March 11, 2015
- Industry changes, Technology
If you missed Apple’s big event on Monday, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered with the highlights as well as what they might mean for the future of healthcare.
The technology giant delighted millions of people when it unveiled an all-new MacBook and an exclusive service that will bring HBO to Apple customers, but the big news of the day was the long-awaited Apple Watch, which will finally be available to consumers in the last week of April.
Apple also introduced a software framework for the iPhone that enables physicians and medical organizations to build apps that will aid research into a host of diseases. The new system was announced to notably less fanfare, but it and the Apple Watch are developments that could send waves through the entire healthcare industry.
Is the future of medicine on your wrist?
Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal declared that the future of medicine is in your smartphone. Some of the author’s predictions are already coming to fruition, and ResearchKit and the Apple Watch should only expedite that process. Healthcare providers creating apps with ResearchKit will add some structure to the already-booming business of do-it-yourself medicine, but ultimately it’s the patients who will be in control. In fact, the only thing we might change about the Journal‘s assertion is that the future of medicine might actually be on your wrist.
If you have doubts about the utility of the Apple Watch, you’re not alone. Much of its functionality is already possible with any smartphone, and it only takes a second to glance at your phone’s screen, even when you’re in a hurry. And the release of bigger and bigger smartphones that are practically mini tablets prove that some things will always be easier on a bigger screen. But don’t think for a second that Apple’s done developing its newest brainchild, or that the Apple Watch’s functionality now isn’t a fraction of what it could be capable of in a year or five.
Look no further than Apple’s flagship device, the iPhone. It’s almost hard to remember what life was like before smartphones took over, but the iPhone was released less than eight years ago. The first iteration—sans App Store for the first year of its existence—pales in comparison to newer versions that do more, last longer, and use less power, packing more and more functionality into a design that keeps getting thinner and thinner. Only time can tell if the Apple Watch will follow the same trajectory, but it finally got out of the gate on Monday.
Bridging the gap between patients and providers to find new cures
In the end, though, it might actually be ResearchKit that has the biggest impact on people’s lives. While it didn’t receive half as much (or even a tenth as much, really) hype as the Apple Watch, it’s already laid the groundwork for a bevy of apps from some of the leading healthcare providers in the world. Those apps will allow iPhone users to track and store more detailed medical data than ever and share it with doctors and researchers, bridging the gap between patients and healthcare providers even further and making it easier than ever for trained professionals to help people understand the data they’re recording.
And while we’re talking about the potential for growth, we could devote many more words to the places this technology could go, offering additional help for people with asthma, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease—and that’s just to start.
And perhaps the most exciting development would be if ResearchKit inspires the same kind of competition the Apple Watch is sure to inspire, because the more people working to understand these diseases, the closer we are to making life even better for the people living with them.