Apple’s new research unveils plans for Health coaching and effective blood glucose management

Apple Health Coaching

We are swamped with various notifications throughout the day on our mobile devices. The growing popularity of digital health and fitness offerings has added more volume to things that need our attention in recent years.

How many times have you swiped away the “Time to stand” message on your Apple Watch? Or completely disabled the Breathe app-related notifications?

As Apple plans to move into more health and fitness related areas such as blood pressure monitoring or glucose monitoring, it realizes that some of these health-based interactions with users are important to change a user’s behavior and positively impact their health outcome.

Users today perform certain actions or forgo from performing certain actions that can impact their health or directly on one or more physiological parameters relevant to their health. 

According to a patent (20210020316) approved today, Apple is researching new user interfaces that will encourage users to engage more with their health without too much of a cognitive burden and allow the company to provide quality health coaching users.

The research showcases examples where a “Health Coach” will interact with a group of participants to help manage health outcomes.

  • A health coach can work with one or more participants over a series of sessions (e.g., a set of days (e.g., 10 days)) to monitor health-related events and data, such as diet and blood glucose data
  • to assist the one or more participants with better understanding their physiological reaction to health-related events and, 
  • potentially, to assist the one or more participants with modifying their behavior to improve their health. 

For example, a coach can work with a pre-diabetic participant to, in a first session, first understand the impact of various events that the participant would log on their blood glucose. Connecting with the coach is easy via a “Connect” tab on the bottom of the screen in the Health coaching app.

Apple Health+ coach

The coach can then work with the pre-diabetic participant in subsequent sessions to modify their behavior by issuing event challenges to positively affect their blood glucose levels and/or general health. 

New User interface designs make it easier to log activities. For example, the user interface here shows an indication of an action (consumption of “a coffee with almond milk”) associated with the logged food event and a time (6:35 AM) that the event was logged, indicating when the action was taken. Photos with Food for health metrics

The user can click a photo of the food or drink in question and upload it to the system.

Physiological data other than blood glucose is tracked in addition to or in place of blood glucose. Other physiological data can, for example, include cholesterol, body weight, body temperature, viral load, and blood pressure.Apple health and sentiments

The new Health coaching interfaces will also make collecting events and associated sentiments easier. For example, when you complete a 5 mi run, you can choose a sentiment such as ‘Fatigued’ with a simple tap from a list.

This could be followed up by a relevant message based on historical events relevant to the user. For example, “Protein Bar after a run.”

As the user completes relevant actions and provides input, the system can continuously track the impact on blood glucose levels and provide feedback.

In some instances, the habit challenge can specify one or more actions (e.g., “EAT PROTEIN BAR IMMEDIATELY AFTER EXERCISE”) that are to be performed throughout the day to meet the challenge. In contrast, in other cases, the habit challenge can specify one or more actions that should be avoided to meet the challenge (e.g., “DO NOT DRINK SUGARED SODA”).

The detailed examples in this new patent showcase a wide variety of user interfaces and associated feedback processes that should help users manage their health more effectively.

Given that Apple has already launched its Apple Fitness+ program to help users with their fitness challenges, it is only a matter of time that the Cupertino tech company will come out with a Health+ subscription that will provide health coaching as well as detailed and actionable insights for users who are pre-diabetic or are using a CGMS (continuous glucose monitoring system) to manage their health.

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Sudz Niel Kar
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products, have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in emerging tech, and owned the popular site AppleToolBox. In my day job, I advise Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health and fitness-tech evolution and keeping a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships, and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Watch and closely monitor my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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