Apple’s API app accessible

This week, Apple released news that it will allow access to “Apps empowering consumers to manage medications, diseases, nutrition and more, coming this fall” (to a developer near you). The Health Records feature that allows patients of more than 500 hospitals and clinics (e.g. Johns Hopkins, UNC, Cedars-Sinai, Ochsner) to access medical information from various institutions organized into one view on an iPhone. With this people can share data from various sources with other apps or healthcare providers. Use cases include: Medication tracking via Medisafe, Disease management, Nutrition planning, and Medical research via ResearchKit. If you want to know more about Apple’s developer conference and have 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 20 seconds to kill, then you can watch the keynote here. New Apple marketing: “Using an Apple a day will keep the doctor nigh.” (sigh)

5. Got flu?

Wouldn’t it be great to know who’s got the flu and who doesn’t? Well now there’s an app for that. GSK and MIT Connection Science have partnered to create a crowd sourcing app called Flumoji. The data from the app tracks someone’s social interactions and attempts to match that with when they get the flu. Users can also identify within the app how they’re feeling using Emojis to denote their state of health. Better predictive analysis of health crises is critical and apps like Flumoji might help. Please tell me this will work on a Jitterbug.

4. Compounding addictions

You know what sounds crazy? The FDA’s “2016 Naloxone App Competition.” The idea, to develop a location-based, social search service application (a la Tinder) that connects opioid users and first responders to someone nearby with a dose of naloxone, was presented as a challenge by the FDA to programmers, public health advocates, researchers and entrepreneurs in an attempt to slow the death rate from opioid overdoses. Naloxone is a prescription drug able to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when administered quickly enough; the FDA believes this antidote is currently in too few hands to save all who might benefit. But an FDA sanctioned app that unites drug users with drugs? Just like opioids and smartphones, this app seems ripe for abuse.

2. Who’s stepping up to the digital plate?

The NHS that’s who. UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has unveiled plans to “fast track digital excellence” including a further round of digital excellence centres and “instant access” to a personal online health record. The NHS will select 12 “global exemplars” that could receive up to £10 million to support their pioneering efforts. The plan will also invest heavily in training healthcare workers on how to use digital technologies. One example: A library of NHS-approved health apps to guide patient choice. They will also be advising on other wearable devices, to ensure people can select reputable and effective products to monitor and improve their health. Brilliant.

5. DIY patient recruitment

How nice would it be for your study coordinator to sit back and receive contact details from people who want to join your trial?  Well, now there’s a smartphone app designed to do just that.  Peter Elkin, MD, a University at Buffalo researcher, has developed an app that essentially allows patients to self-recruit.  Patients can search for trials near them that cover the disease/indication that interests them and with the press of a button, send their contact information to the appropriate study coordinator.  If this takes off, not only will patients have the option to actively participate and have access to medical innovations, but the lengthy clinical trial recruitment process has the potential to be significantly reduced.

5. There’s an app for THAT??

Those in the know know Apple wants to become a big player in the healthcare industry.  Apple’s prior release of HealthKit and ResearchKit paved the way for this week’s release of CareKit, a platform that lets developers create applications to help users keep track of specific symptoms or medical progress then share that information with physicians.  Apple has taken special care to require developers to protect the privacy of the medical information stored on the phone and when that information is transferred to a doctor.  The first four applications were introduced this week.  Patients with diabetes and depression can find tools to help them learn and track their symptoms.  New mothers and pregnant women can take advantage of CareKit apps to help with their bundle of joy or bundle-to-be.