When it comes to new healthcare technology, it’s often better if progress is felt rather than seen outright. We don’t hear a lot about progress in this industry for several reasons; the first being the unfortunate reality that many hospitals and other care facilities have simply not bothered to upgrade their technological infrastructure. The second reason is because, ideally, technology in healthcare should be minimally intrusive and meld seamlessly into the care experience.
Recent advances in healthcare technology have been largely cloud-centric, allowing for a more integrated experience across care providers. Managing digital healthcare records has become a priority, with information becoming easier to send, receive, and modify. Wearables and patient portals help patients take control of their own health. There’s quite a lot of information regarding advancements in healthcare, if you know where to look.
It’s such a growing industry that Apple has invested in healthcare technology. However, like the rest of these advancements, it has done so quietly. The tech giant has invested in managing patient records and establishing standards for exchanging medical data.
This isn’t the first time that Apple has worked in the medical industry. Their past endeavors, such as the app creation platforms Carekit, Healthkit, and Research Kit, also centered around managing data. Similarly, they’ve developed their own wearables to deliver biometrics to users, though these are mostly used for fitness. Still, the framework exists for Apple to expand further into patient engagement technology, and appears to be willing to examine a number of different approaches to the new tech.
The hurdles that Apple will face are the same that every other company working in healthcare technology has faced. Security has been problematic in the age of the Internet of Things; the challenge lies in securing every possible device. Other manufacturers of healthcare technology have faced the issue of securing patient data, facing attacks from hackers looking to steal valuable patient data. The recent WannaCry ransomware attack hit England’s National Health Service in addition to a number of other businesses, yet another incident that has highlighted the need for better security.
Patient confidentiality has been a longtime standard for medical services, and new technology will have to address the ways that data can be subverted as it passes through various digital channels. Apple will need to comply to federal regulations concerning healthcare data such as HIPAA, something that may slow down their progress for the time being. This also comes with concerns that moving data between platforms will also weaken security, another issue that the company is looking to address.
Apple is likely hoping to position themselves as a provider of technology for care facilities, with locations buying their products in bulk to create a more comprehensive technological infrastructure. With their new emphasis on the iPhone as a tool for doctors and other care providers, it’s possible that sales will be bolstered, though likely not by any significant amount. Other technology companies are reaching out to care providers in similar ways. Verily Life Sciences, associated with Google, has worked with researchers at Duke and Stanford to help collect data for future study. Other companies have focused on producing patient wearables and cloud infrastructure platforms to market to savvy healthcare companies.
For now, it’s an industry worth examining. Given the amount of concerns about security and network adoption, it stands to reason that healthcare technology will evolve even further as these companies struggle for supremacy.