Apple Inc. (AAPL) HealthKit: Doctors Weigh Risks and Benefits

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was reportedly discussing benefits of its HealthKit app to major healthcare providers in the United States last week. The Cupertino-based tech giant is expected to release the app along with its new iPhone 6 on September 9.

The HealthKit app is connected to iPhone’s sensors to track a number of health and fitness related data such as the blood pressure, heart rate, and the number of calories consumed by a person per day. The app collects and displays a person’s health data in one place. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hopes to make the HealthKit app as the central hub for health data.

An article published by Forbes indicated that some medical doctors raised concerns or weighed the risks and benefits  of Apple’s HealthKit in the healthcare industry.

Concerns regarding accuracy

Dr. Rakesh Kapila, a private General Practitioner (GP) at the South Kensington GP Clinic in London, and completed his training at Mayo Clinic commented that a doctor will not have perspective from raw data in relation to the overall medical condition of a patient. According to him, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) should make the HealthKit app programmable with individual limits set for a specific person or patient.

Dr. Kapila explained that people achieve different results within normal range. According to him, “Look at an athlete with a resting heart rate of 40 beats per minute, this is abnormally low for the majority of other people…”

On the other hand Dr. Dushan Gunasekera a medical graduate at St. Bartholomew who is currently running myHealthCare Clinic in Battersea, London and working with Regent’s Park Clinics pointed out that the accuracy of data is one problem.
“Whilst having this data could be of use, a doctor is unable to guarantee that whichever blood pressure monitor, glucose monitor or fitness tracker a patient is using will be accurate,” said Dr. Gunasekera.

According to him, it is unlikely that doctor will ever come to a point when he will take a look at a person’s health data in his or her phone and be able to give a diagnosis.

Impact on patients’ mentality

In addition, Dr. Gunasekera said Apple’s HealthKit app will “almost certainly affect the mentality of patients, but according to him, it is unclear whether it will make them more paranoid or more aware.”

On the other hand, Dr. Kapila said, “Some patients will develop anxiety over less than perfect figures and it could end up being an unhealthy obsession. Those people that do focus on their health often do think they are healthier than they actually are. The mere act of inputting information about oneself into a tracker is psychologically very reassuring.”

Correct interpretation of data

According to Dr. Gunasekera, the correct interpretation of data produced by the HealthKit of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the key for it to become useful.

“The key to Apple HealthKit being useful all rests on the data produced being interpreted correctly. There is certainly a risk that people will see a sharp dip in one of their graphs and interpret that as a big problem, when in fact the reading could still fall within a normal range,” said Dr. Gunasekera.

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