eXtensions - Wednesday 17 May 2017
eXtensions: The Wednesday File (5) - A Sleeping Giant: Apple and Healthcare (amended)
By Graham K. Rogers
First some UpdatesThe biggest tech news of the weekend was related to the ransomware attack that spread to about 150 countries according to reports I saw, with several spectacular images online of building sides or widescreen operations displays all showing the dreaded message that showed the computer had been infected by the worm, that Microsoft says was created by the NSA. Fortunately, my office was not subject to the attack and there are far too many PCs here.
I noticed many sites mentioning the versions of Windows affected, going way back to the 17-year old XP that is still run on many devices (including legacy ATMs). Many were pleased (as I expect Redmond was) that those with the latest version, Windows 10, were not affected; but not once did I see any mention that Mac owners are not affected at all: unless they were running XP in Boot Camp, perhaps.
The downloads for iOS and macOS were installed without problem, but as usual both the WatchOS and tvOS were slow and not immediate. All was OK in the end, however.
Health and iOSBit by bit in the last few years, Apple has increased its commitment to user's health. It began for me with the Nike + system which created some interest with its ability to record and share performance data worldwide. The whole idea of including health data gained considerable impetus with the illness and death of Steve Jobs, but (at the risk of diminishing his involvement) there was already solid growth in the ways in which iOS devices were being used. Health was one of the areas seeing such growth.
The Apple Watch is a complement to the iPhone and data is transferred (mainly) from the Watch to the iPhone. It can monitor inputs from the user, including movement and heart rate: this especially was baked into the Watch from the outset. A number of features were added with Apple Watch 2 and the related update to WatchOS. More are expected to be announced soon.
Health monitoring on the iPhone and other iOS devices continues to grow and several areas, with regard to wellness and patient monitoring are being explored. When I spoke to Dr. Richard Milani last August, he was excited by the ways that post-operative care could be monitored from a patient's home, reducing costs for hospitals and the patients. He was also keen on the use of Apple's Health app and how those with diabetes could send data automatically to the physician.
I had already seen work by Dexcom outlined during a workshop at last year's WWDC that used invasive technology for constant monitoring of glucose levels via iOS devices. We may find this distasteful, but some patients (especially the young) require such continuous data tracking that this type of system is not regarded as problematic. The alternative could be far worse.
GMate Blood-Glucose System - An Basic Example of Invasive Technology
Sleep and Health and iOSThere has been considerable research done into sleep. For several years, the university I work at has had a sleep clinic. Among other facilities, there are rooms where those with problems can stay overnight and be monitored in an effort to isolate a cause.
There have been a number of apps that seek to help with sleep problems and I looked at some of these back in 2012: Apps for Insomniacs. Of those I looked at then, only Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock and Dream:ON are still available.
Sleep Cycle Alarm, Dream:ON and Cardiogram
Bedtime, Cardiogram and Health app
Other Views and InputIn a sharp comment on a typical Michael Blair troll article on Seeking Alpha, steyoun wrote, "We are about to see a level of innovation in health monitoring that we've never seen before. It will combine hardware, apps, deep learning/artificial intelligence, the developer community and integration into the health care system. Health care is a multi-trillion $ industry and it's ripe for innovation and some disruption. There has to be a tipping point where the rate of health care costs start going down. Perhaps Apple wants to make a play here."
A reply to this by astout reads, "Yes this is part of an orchestrated developing narrative around health monitoring. Glucose monitoring is next. There are 371 million diagnosed diabetics in the world which they estimate is half the number of actual cases. Wake up people this is going to be huge!"
A few years ago, Phil Schiller said that what developers have been able to do with iOS apps exceeded all expectations of Apple. As time goes on, and as Apple releases more APIs, the potential for Health (and many other) areas will increase, but it is this area of Health - personal performance, wellness, monitoring - that has significant potential for growth.
Such an expansion also increases the amount of data that must be handled. In comment on LinkedIn, Bill McCabe writes about Big Data and its potential impact on Healthcare, noting that "the industry . . . has to change the way they are doing business in nearly every way in order to attain the full value and potential" available. In comments on Twitter, Marc Wilczek (@MarcWilczek) wrote, "By 2020, 33% of the digital universe (13,000+ exabytes) will have Bigdata value, provided it is tagged and analyzed."
Also commenting on this, Daniel Eran Dilger (AppleInsider) writes that the Lattice technology comes from Stanford University's DeepDive research project technology. Although some of the value of Lattice may be in voice technology, "its website also suggest potential use in analyzing data for use in Maps and self driving vehicles; HealthKit and ResearchKit; camera logic and processing as well as Internet data document search."
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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