US hospital's iPad patient plan and Apple's bid for mHealth

Using an Apple each day will keep you well

Apple, health, iOS, iPad, Apple TV, Jamf, Hospital
Credit: NEC

A US hospital is putting iPads and an Apple TV inside 245 rooms in an attempt to empower patients with easy to access real-time insights into their treatment and conditions, yet more evidence of Apple’s big plans for health.

Empowering patient recovery

The newly revealed Jacobs Medical Center plans are yet another public expression of the transformative impact Apple’s technologies are having across the industry. They were announced at the event at which IBM also revealed the it is three times more expensive to manage Windows PCs than to manage Macs.

Patients will be able to use the two Apple devices to check their patient notes and Electronic Health data, using Epic’s MyChart app. This will enable them to understand their condition and treatment. The Apple devices will also help improve their stay, controlling room temperature and lighting, keeping in contact with friends and family using FaceTime or Skype, and accessing multimedia entertainment.

The best solution

The decision to use Apple kit was based on how easy it is to manage once deployed, using Jamf solutions. The hospital tried using 25 Android tablets because they were cheaper, but things didn’t work out. “Other devices were evaluated, but weren’t easy-to-execute because someone had to physically touch each device to reset it after it was wiped,” said Marc Sylwestrzak, director of IS experience and web services, UC San Diego Health. “This process took 15-20 minutes per device each time we needed to prepare a device for the next patient.”

I’ve no doubt Apple’s critics will try to dismiss these plans, asking what value the solutions will provide to patient health. They miss the point. Patients that are empowered with knowledge concerning their condition are better at handling the recovery. Not only this but the ability to stay in contact with friends and family reduces feelings of isolation and access to your chosen forms of entertainment can help stave of the demoralization that so often impacts patients in long-term care. Patient morale is an important component to recovery. Not only this, but with so many of the patients at this hospital likely to be suffering from mobility, voice or hearing impairment, Apple’s industry-leading accessibility tools will likely play a part.

Why it matters

"We're giving patients visibility into why they are there," Eric Boyd said. "We're reducing the worries of being in a hospital and empowering patients" to have quick and easy access to what is happening to them as part of their treatment.”

Apple is completely dedicated to digital transformation across the healthcare industry and is already working with some of the world’s leading digital health experts. Sensor and software development is on the fast track at the firm, as it attempts to find a way to marry the very best in medical science with product development strategies to create mass-market health-related devices that truly make you well. Think about the actual engineering commitment that went into ensuring the Apple Watch heart sensor is the most precise such sensor you can get.

Building better

iPhone has a big part to play in health research. The smartphone brand with the highest customer satisfaction in the industry is able to translate customer engagement into real world research data thanks to Research Kit, Care Kit and HealthKit in iOS. “What Apple is offering at a large scale with these frameworks is an ecosystem for digital health,” explains Ryan Rossier is VP of Platform Solutions at Medullan. Once again the notion is that by linking what we habitually do with sensors and data collection for health, Apple can succeed in identifying patterns to help keep you healthy.

The future potential of this kind of technology is immense. It is possible a recent AI deployment in Germany may help show how profoundly these solutions could transform healthcare. IBM and Germany’s Rhön-Klinikum’s Center for Undiagnosed and Rare Diseases are using Watson to analyse large quantities of complex patient data in order to help improve diagnosis of some of the world’s rarest and hardest to identify conditions. That’s one of those sentences that may fly by you, so let me reprise it: Watson is being used to analyze huge collections of patient data in order to spot relationships and inconsistencies that may help identify what ails a person. In less complex cases, these technologies should also be capable of identifying good practice to avoid potential illness.

Apple a day

So, returning to the Jacobs Medical Center, you’d be foolish to dismiss the deployment of Apple solutions there – soon they will be everywhere, including the operating room. Apple’s big game plan is to ensure that using an Apple each day will really keep you well.

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