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The Apple Watch: A Personal Health Data Hub

agupta
Sep 14, 2015

The Apple Watch last week took a big step toward becoming a life-altering—and potentially life-saving—wearable. Apple announced a new app, Airstrip, which enables healthcare providers to remotely monitor a mother’s and fetus’s heart beat securely, outside the hospital.

This a blessing for the families dealing with high-risk pregnancies who can’t visit a clinic regularly. But the news also carries huge potential for a broad spectrum of healthcare use cases.

Could this pave the way to better sensors to help tackle chronic diseases like diabetes and heart failure? Could the Apple Watch become the aggregator that helps give advance notice for allergies? Could this even become a drug dispensing mechanism? Could this be the trigger for healthier lives?

The spectrum of possibilities ranges from wellness to chronic condition management, especially when you think about the Watch as not just a cool gadget, but as the key to an ecosystem.

With that in mind, you can picture a watch-based personal health data hub that aggregates content across a range of sensors—on you, and around you.

But we’re not quite there yet. There are additional key components that have to come together first.

Healthcare is an industry plagued with data silos, fragmented standards, and rich data sources that provide poor insights. For the Apple Watch ecosystem to flourish, we need access to these data silos of legacy electronic medical records, lab systems, health plans, and other source systems.

Meaningful apps for the Watch will only become possible by securely accessing all this data with the right consent from the parties involved. APIs become a key component of this data liquidity. APIs provide a secure, standard, simple, and scalable way to expose services and data, and thus open the door to a rich app portfolio.

In healthcare, the recent momentum toward the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) specification as a secure and scalable data exchange protocol will go a long way in connecting to these disparate source systems. APIs based on the FHIR standard will play a key role in making data liquid as it moves through the ecosystem.

Consumers are finally wearing a device on their wrists that can truly improve their health, but to reap the benefits, data needs to be freed by APIs.

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