Your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch is a powerful healthcare companion. Interview with Dr. Tommy Korn (post WWDC insight series)

Vision Pro headset by Apple first generation

While the unveiling of Apple’s Vision Pro headset was the talk of the town from last week’s Apple’s yearly worldwide developers’ conference (WWDC 2023), Apple also showcased its continuing commitment to helping its users monitor and manage their health and wellness.

Apple’s latest operating systems, including iOS 17 for iPhone, iPadOS 17 for iPad, and watchOS 10 for Apple Watch, include some new health tools to support mental well-being and maintain long-term vision health.

As part of our ongoing post-WWDC Insight Series, we sat down with our friend Dr. Tommy Korn and discussed how this year’s updates advance Apple’s mission to revolutionize healthcare and wellness.

Related reading

About Dr. Korn Sharp doctor Dr. Tommy Korn

Tommy Korn, MD, is an ophthalmologist at Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, California. He spearheads Sharp’s many digital healthcare initiatives into various technologies, including Apple CareKit, Apple Watch, and iPads, to improve patient care and healthcare processes.

The Sharp Health Companion app, created by his team, was one of the first healthcare apps to utilize the Apple CareKit health platform to empower senior patients to prepare and recover from cataract eye surgery.

Dr. Korn is a trailblazer in the field of digital health imaging, using his iPhone Pro to capture precise eye photos, enabling him to document disease progression and educate patients, establishing him as a leader in the digital ophthalmology space.

Here are some of the key insights from our conversation with Dr. Korn.

It seems that this year, new and improved health features were overshadowed by the announcement of Apple Vision Pro. What are your thoughts?

Despite the perception that new health features were not as prominent this year, Apple’s commitment to revolutionizing healthcare and wellness remains strong.

They strategically reveal features when they are perfected for public use, ensuring quality and user experience—for example, this year, Apple released two important new vision health features: Screen Distance monitoring and Time in Daylight. iPad and iPhone Screen Distance feature in screen time

Additionally, Apple announced new Mental Health tools in the iPhone’s and iPad’s Health app and in the Mindfulness app on Apple Watch that help people build emotional awareness and resilience.

These mental well-being features introduce a valuable tool for users to track and log their moods and emotions throughout the day and also take clinically validated depression and anxiety assessments. By entering this information, users gain insights into their mental well-being and potential risk for anxiety or depression. Apple Health app for iPhone and iPad log emotional state

This feature allows individuals to maintain a diary of their emotional state, providing a holistic view of their mental health over time. And by identifying patterns and trends, users can proactively take steps to prioritize their mental well-being and seek appropriate support if needed. Apple Health app state of mind describe feelings and impacts on feelings

Apple’s commitment to integrating mental health tools into its ecosystem highlights its dedication to empowering users to prioritize and monitor their emotional well-being.

Additionally, since these mental well-being features are available across iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, millions of people around the world will have access to these important tools.

New accessibility features

Apple has also introduced several new accessibility features that are poised to make a significant difference in people’s lives.

One notable feature that has been released is Assistive Access, which simplifies the Home Screen on iPads and iPhones by creating larger app icons. Assistive Access for iPhone and iPad

Assistive Access is designed to support users with cognitive disabilities. However, this group can often include seniors.

With Assistive Access, a streamlined interface with high-contrast buttons and large text labels lightens the cognitive load. It can be customized by the user or a caregiver for their individual needs.

This feature is particularly valuable for seniors and individuals who may not be tech-savvy, allowing them to easily access important key apps like Phone, Messages, Mail, Safari web browser, and Camera. Assistive Access for Apple iPhone and iPad accessibility options

As an ophthalmologist, many of my patients fall into the senior demographic, and I firmly believe that Assistive Access will be a game-changer for them.

This feature will greatly facilitate their ability to navigate EMR patient portal apps and CareKit apps, which are crucial for preparing and recovering from medical surgeries and procedures.

By streamlining the user interface and making key apps more accessible, Apple is empowering seniors to take better control of their healthcare journey and engage with essential tools for managing their medical needs.

These advancements in accessibility not only improve the usability of Apple devices for seniors and non-tech-savvy individuals but also enhance their overall quality of life.

Apple’s commitment to developing features that cater to diverse user needs demonstrates its dedication to inclusivity and ensuring that technology is accessible to everyone, regardless of age or technological background.

I have no doubt that Apple has ongoing initiatives in the pipeline, and we can anticipate exciting advancements in the future. 

Tim Cook once said that Apple’s greatest contributions to humanity will ultimately be in the health space.

Rest assured, Apple continues to lead the way in transforming healthcare and wellness. Stay tuned!

As an ophthalmologist, can you describe Apple’s latest vision additions to iOS17 and why they matter? Reviewing Retina scan on iPad Dr. Tommy Korn

Apple’s latest vision additions, including the screen distance feature and the emphasis on time in daylight, are game changers for vision health, particularly in children. As an ophthalmologist, I am excited about these vision health announcements by Apple.

The screen distance feature promotes maintaining a healthy distance from screens, reducing the risk of digital eye strain and myopia progression.

By encouraging users to be mindful of their screen habits, Apple promotes better eye ergonomics and long-term vision health.

Additionally, the focus on time in daylight (by measuring ambient light exposure through Apple Watch) recognizes the importance of natural light exposure for normal eye anatomy development. Apple Health app time in daylight feature

Many parents (including myself) prefer their young children to only use an Apple Watch as opposed to having an iPhone.  By tracking and encouraging outdoor time, Apple supports optimal vision development in children so eyes don’t become myopic.

These features showcase Apple’s commitment to fostering healthy vision habits and addressing concerns associated with screen usage in a user-friendly manner.

In addition to vision health, Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and Watch help people manage their existing conditions and can also help prevent or delay the onset of other health concerns and diseases.

These devices offer healthcare apps for treatment management, like Apple’s Health app and many third-party apps, health monitoring features, and personalized insights. Health app on iPhone and iPad

They empower individuals to actively participate in their health, access telemedicine services, track vital signs, and adopt healthy habits. This combination of features supports both treatment and prevention efforts, promoting overall well-being.

What do you think will be the impact of the Health app being available on the iPad?

The addition of the Health app to the iPad will have a significant impact, particularly for people, especially seniors, who may not have an iPhone but do own an iPad.

Seniors often prefer the iPad due to its larger screen, which accommodates their aging eye conditions such as presbyopia and cataracts.

With the Health app now available on the iPad, seniors and — when they share their health data — their loved ones have the convenience of accessing and viewing their medical, exercise, and wellness data on a larger screen.

For this reason, some importance of adding the Health app to the iPad lies in its ability to empower seniors to manage their health actively. iPad with Apple Health app

By providing a user-friendly interface with a larger iPad screen and easy access to personal health information, the Health app on the iPad enables seniors to track their progress, monitor important metrics, and stay engaged in their wellness journey.

The iPad Health app helps bridge the gap between technology and healthcare for seniors, allowing them to take control of their health management in a way that suits their preferences and needs.

Moreover, the availability of the Health app on iPad benefits not only seniors but also their loved ones.

When senior users choose to share their health data with caregivers and family members, those loved ones can now easily view and monitor the health data of their elderly relatives on a larger screen. Apple Heath app on iPad Health Sharing

This feature promotes better communication, shared decision-making, and a collaborative approach to managing health conditions, ultimately enhancing the overall well-being of seniors and their support networks.

By offering a comprehensive health monitoring tool on the iPad, Apple enables seniors and their loved ones to better monitor, track, and manage their health, fostering greater engagement, independence and informed decision-making.

With all the talk about artificial intelligence these days, where do you see Apple going (or could go) in using AI for health and wellness or assisting in disease management?

Apple has been at the forefront of leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for quite some time. They have integrated AI into various aspects of their ecosystem, such as Siri, predictive apps, intelligent search, and personalized suggestions.

However, Apple’s approach to AI is centered around making the technology intuitive and empowering for users.

Were there any other features or device announcements from WWDC 2023 that excite you?

Absolutely! The most exciting announcement from Apple was the introduction of Apple Vision Pro, which signifies a fundamental shift in computer-human interactions with spatial computing.

The significance of this technology is highlighted by the fact that a significant portion of the keynote time was dedicated to its unveiling. This emphasis indicates that Apple recognizes the transformative potential of spatial computing in revolutionizing how we interact with our devices. Having a conversation while wearing Apple Vision Pro

Apple Vision Pro’s capabilities, such as immersive experiences, eye tracking, and hand gestures, I believe, open up new possibilities for various industries, including healthcare.

From my own perspective, I believe in the future, surgeons can leverage this technology to perform surgeries with enhanced precision and efficiency, as it could help identify key structures in real-time.

Furthermore, the device could potentially enable real-time collaboration with other surgeons around the world, promoting knowledge sharing and improving complex surgical procedures.

Apple Vision Pro represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of human-computer interactions. This technology has the potential to reshape industries, including healthcare, and revolutionize how we interact with devices in the near future.

Previous articleSee the amount of time you or your child spends in daylight with an Apple Watch and the Health app
Next articleIs your Samsung Galaxy Watch not connecting to phone? Let’s fix it
A. Beth Whittenberger
I started my love affair with computers way back in elementary school with the Apple II. Since then, I've worked with technology in my career as a media educator and videomaker. I have an MFA in media making from Temple University, where I also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member. Additionally, I was a writer, content producer, and editor on the popular tech blog AppleToolBox. So I know a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides! After a cancer diagnosis, I turned to mobile technology like my Apple Watch to help me monitor my health throughout my chemotherapy treatment and later, to regain my wellness once in remission. I love sharing how to understand and use mobile tech, like smartwatches and phones, as a tool for empowerment to live our best and healthiest lives! Connect with me on LinkedIn!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.