For all of the news that Apple managed to cram into today’s 135-minute(!) WWDC keynote this morning, the event was actually pretty light on health care updates. It was a bit of a surprise, given how much of a focus the company has put on the space at past events.
Apple did announce an interesting health tidbit today on its website today — something that likely just got squeezed out of keynote the event late in the game. Starting this fall, the company will open up health record data to third-party iOS apps through a new API. The feature will make it possible for users to share health data from more than 500 hospitals/clinics with third-party apps.
There are, clearly, some serious concerns around sharing this sort of sensitive data.
The company is addressing this in a couple of ways. For starters, it’s all opt-in, obviously. Your personal information won’t be shared with any apps unless you explicitly allow it to be. The health records are also encrypted and stored locally on the phone.
“When consumers choose to share their health record data with trusted apps,” according to Apple, “the data flows directly from HealthKit to the third-party app and is not sent to Apple’s servers.”
As far as specific applications for such data, Apple points to medication tracking as one of the key case uses. Medisafe will be among the first to use the information in this way, letting users import prescription lists, in order to push reminders, without having to manually enter all of that information in the app.
Disease management is another possibility, for something along the lines of a diabetes app, which customizes recommendations based on health information. There’s also some applications for broader medical research here, providing anonymized health data for laboratory purposes.