Apple’s Wellness Registry Server could help with managing chronic conditions

apple health metrics on iPhone and watch

Apple is considering building up a Wellness Registry in the future to help you share your health information details with friends, family, physicians, and other research organizations. 

Approximately 133 million Americans currently suffer from at least one chronic condition. This number is expected to rise to approximately 165 million by the year 2020. As a result, the cost of healthcare in the United States is expected to increase dramatically.

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We need convenient mobile health tools

Attempts have been made to improve the health of individuals by providing them with tools to monitor and track their wellness data. Wellness data can generally include any type of data associated with a person’s health, such as their weight, heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose level, medication compliance, activity level, or the like.

Users can monitor their wellness using devices, such as blood pressure cuffs, blood glucose monitors, electrocardiograms, step counters, and the like. Software applications (e.g., Apps) associated with each of these devices have also been developed to allow users to track their wellness data over time.

While each application can be used to view useful information about a user’s health, current applications are limited in their ability to allow users to store, view, and share wellness data collected by different devices. 

This information came to light with a recent patent filing that was approved today. The Apple patent 10,810,323, filed in 2018 and approved today shows some of the thinking behind Apple’s rationale for designing a wellness registry.Apple Wellness Registry design and use

Some of the features described in this recently approved patent are either already built into the current Health app or the Research App.

Apple’s Health App and medical records functionality

Since the time of this patent filing,  Apple has already made some progress when it comes to building up the functionality of its Health App. Today the company already provides some of this functionality via automation of electronic medical records. (EMR) and handles some of the privacy-related issues around healthcare data. All of your health data is already encrypted other than what you choose to share via the Medical ID functionality.Apple Wellness Registry data in health and research app

You can also download all your health data into an XML file allowing for easy sharing. When you set up the Health app on your iPhone, you can control which third-party apps you provide access to and more.

A growing list of healthcare institutions supports health records on the iPhone, enabling you to view important data such as immunizations, lab results, medications, and vitals directly in the Health app.

Apple is looking into expanding some of the functionality as it relates to the ability of a user to share their data and or consume health data from other partners.

One particular area where Apple is exploring is around educating users about new medical research studies in the area of their interest.

Using Apple’s Wellness Registry Server

As an example, the user can provide the registry server with information about the type(s) of research studies that may be of interest to the user.Apple Wellness

For example, the user may select from a displayed list of types of illnesses, types of data, and the like (e.g., high blood pressure, colon cancer, heart disease, activity data, and the like) and select from the displayed list via user input to the computing device, the type of illnesses studies they are interested in participating in. 

The registry server can monitor a current list of research studies being conducted to identify studies that match the user’s preferences and can send notifications to potentially interested users.

The notifications can be displayed on the user’s device as an e-mail, a text, a message, a banner, a badge, or the like and can include a link or other selectable element that, when selected by the user, can allow the user to quickly opt-in to the study, thereby granting the entity associated with the study access to the user’s wellness or non-wellness data. 

In response to the user’s selection, an authorization granting the entity access to the user’s wellness data can be transmitted to the registry server. 

Looking forward

Research App from Apple today allows users to sign up for open studies that Apple is partnered up with. 

In the future, Apple could potentially open up this up further and allow users to sign up for newer studies based on their health conditions that is being offered by different hospitals and research organizations in the country.

Today, many interested users need to go to Clinicalstudyfinder.com or other similar resources to sign up for areas of interest. That could change if Apple opened up its Wellness registry to integrate with patients or other providers.

Apple could play the facilitator by providing users with the latest news around medical research and clinical trials related to their chronic conditions on one hand and offer research institutions authorized access to user’s health data for better research.

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