The pandemic accelerated digital transformation in most parts of life, including in healthcare, where patients and doctors have become used to remote consultations.
This is wind under the wings of digital healthcare providers, with Verizon now grasping the chance to work more closely with Apple.
Verizon Bluejeans integrates Apple Health
Verizon’s BlueJeans Telehealth subsidiary has announced a new integration with Apple Health that lets patients share their health data with healthcare providers during a tele-health consultation with the company.
The idea is that vital signs picked up by Apple devices, such as heart rate, sleep, and other information can be shared during the appointment, which means the person you are speaking with in the call gains a pretty good insight into your health condition.
Verizon Bluejeans has developed a new app that features this information during a virtual health visit. On a single screen you see a video of the person you are speaking with along with a short note relating to your health concerns and data drawn from the Apple Health app.
The app supports information and document sharing and lets the health practitioner zoom into data shared with them in order to gain deeper insight into trends.
This isn’t trivial stuff. We know that first line care services are going to become increasingly virtual as hard-pressed doctors and care staff seek to optimize their time to handle increasing patient workloads.
The pandemic adds a layer of risk to such interactions, which makes it likely that professionals will seek more distance between themselves and others where they can. McKinsey & Company recently found that the pandemic has driven virtual consultations to levels 38 times higher than before, with more than half of consumers interested in using virtual health solutions.
What Apple is building
Apple has built a vast platform in support of digital health. This extends across many different personal metrics picked up by the Health app to the sensors used on its devices and a variety of software tools designed to pull the ecosystem together, from research to analysis to handling Electronic Health Records.
Arguably, iOS 15 is when the plan really comes together, as the OS will let users securely share data from the Health app with medical practitioners and other trusted people. In addition, the OS brings new tools to identify, measure, and understand changes in your health.
The implication of this is best evidenced in the new BlueJeans app, which shows how this data can be utilized to support better remote diagnosis and care.
“Having meaningful conversations with a doctor about everyday activities during a visit is a key part of managing health, but it can be difficult to remember the details,” Apple said, when it announced the new sharing plans. “With user permission, the Health app can keep track of valuable information, helping bridge the gap of what a person experiences between clinic appointments.”
What Apple does
What we don’t know is the extent to which Apple intends making use of these tools to build its own health ecosystem. We do know the company has looked into the provision of its own healthcare service, supported by real doctors, as noted by the Wall Street Journal earlier this year.
That service may look very similar to what’s on offer from BlueJeans Telehealth, with remote patient monitoring and access to virtual medical appointments.
Apple allegedly already has an internal app called HealthHabit that does some of this.
The privacy thing
The one thing that mars this plan is privacy. Once Apple’s big advantage, privacy has now become its Achilles’ Heel as users continue to consider the implications of its on-device scanning for CSAM.
While Apple says it won’t extend this scheme for other things, most people will begin to seek ways to diversify their addiction to mobile devices in order to limit any potential exposure to any future expansion of the reach of Apple’s intrusive surveillance tech.
Apple’s ambitions in digital health may be a cost of that caper.
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