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An Apple a day keeps the doctor away

An Apple a day keeps the doctor away

By Jenny Rudd
4 September 2014

Imagine never having to wait for, or pay a doctor unless you were acutely unwell. A world where someone with diabetes, cardiac disease, or any other number of chronic conditions could monitor their vital signs and inform their physicians with a simple tap.

Word on the street is that every iPhone 6 will have a built in Health app with just these ambitions. It will collate all your health data into one easily readable and accessible dashboard. One that communicates with all your other health and fitness apps. Even better, shares that information with your doctor or hospital in a heartbeat. Health is a product of Apple’s new operating system iOS 8, and Apple reckons it might just be the beginning of a health revolution.

Health has already scored a biggie with Mayo Clinic, one of the most highly renowned medical centres in North America. Mayo breathed life into the venture with a commitment to sync its own patient app with Health this month. EPIC, a leader in electronic health record systems, has also leapt onboard. With those fingers in Apple’s pie, Health is definitely showing signs of life.

Though the advantages of such an app are immediately apparent, those with an overly attuned awareness to changes in their health often have increased levels of anxiety and pain. In that same group of people, usually due to lack of knowledge, there is a tendency to think that normal variations in health parameters are cause for concern. Will this app simply be another cause for neurosis in an already hyped up existence?

Aaron E. Carroll from the New York Time cites an article from 1992 which proclaims that ‘hospitals may soon learn the value of shared info’, and wryly states that he’s still waiting. Sharing is not the only hurdle. Privacy lapses, patient and physician non compliance, machine failures and data overload are all potentially damaging side effects. It’s easy for health professionals to reject the concept of lay people managing and possibly misinterpreting their own health data. The stakes are undeniably high and a cautionary approach is essential. With all these complexities, there’s every chance that Health will become just another convenient adjunct to our nutrition and fitness regimes.

© Scoop Media

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